The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted a “Road to the White House” event Tuesday to discuss the The event featured a panel consisting of Anthony Boulahoud, a member of the USC College Democrats; Robert Shrum, who serves as the USC Dornsife Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics; Mary Perez, Vice President of the USC College Republicans and Brian Calle, an opinion editor for The Orange County Register. Moderators included Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Lily Vaughan, editorial director at the Daily Trojan.
The panel started with a discussion about the presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and how they have approached their campaigns in what has become one of the most unprecedented campaigns ever. The panel discussed what Calle called a “coin flip election,” because of both candidates’ high disapproval ratings. Clinton and Trump are the most unpopular presidential candidates in the last 30 years. Clinton holds a 59 percent disapproval rating among voters and Trump has a 60 percent disapproval rating among voters.
In several recent national polls, Trump and Clinton were virtually tied. Over the past few months, both presidential candidates have suffered from backlash from party voters and the media. Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary against Senator Bernie Sanders, who had gained a large following of supporters, while Trump obtained the Republican nomination despite making headlines for derogatory comments and receiving backlash from voters and the media.
The panel agreed that this presidential election will be a monumental one, while Boulahoud and Calle argued whether it was better to vote for “the lesser of the two evils” or for a third party candidate. Shrum spoke on the third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein and their own campaigns, but said that he does not believe that the third party candidates will have an effect on the final outcome of the election.
“I believe that Hillary Clinton is going to win, and I think that … the debate will have a huge impact because people will be so fascinated by these two candidates and the third parties will begin to fade,” Shrum said.
Carlos Yeh, a graduate student studying International Public Policy and Management, attended the event and said,
“I think it’s great because they invited both supporters of the Republican and Democratic parties, and they can at least agree that they don’t support Donald Trump. They are bringing different perspectives from different groups and it’s really interesting. Especially listening to people who have so many years of experience in politics.”
Lily Vaughan, who served as moderator for the panel said, “It was great, especially hearing from both sides of the panel and especially when we’re talking to such intelligent people, and as a moderator it’s always fun to ask the questions and hear the responses. Everyone’s opinion is changed because of where they come from and the education they receive and just how Dan said it’s about everyone looking at the same problem and coming to different conclusions. So you know as a political science major, as an editor it’s always nice to hear everyone’s opinion and really see where our country is at right now and how we can move forward.
The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics will continue to hold a “Road to the White House Series” event every week throughout the semester fro 6-7 at the Ground Zero Cafe.