Faculty News

Virtual Wolverine Caucus: Discussing the 2020 Presidential Election

The 2020 presidential election is less than a month away. Who is going to the polls? What is going to happen?

Michael Traugott, research professor at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, answered those questions and more during a recent virtual Wolverine Caucus event.

Traugott discussed the standard model for estimating election outcomes, addressing questions such as:

  • What is the division of partisanship in the constituency?
  • How are candidates being evaluated?
  • What are their main policy differences?
  • Will there be differential turnout?

He reviewed how partisanship in the US has shifted in the last 25 years, and emphasized that participation rates in recent elections have been just above 50 percent. Traugott also highlighted the importance of evaluating the policies and strategies of the candidates, and the integrity of the electoral system..

Traugott also reflected on the 2016 election, and spoke about how it was different from previous presidential elections and how it is guiding pollsters in this election.

“One of the things that happens in pre-election polls is that the pollsters have to make a lot of assumptions—one of them is what will the electorate look like this year? A reference point for them is what happened last time. It turned out that voting behavior in the 2016 election differed in a number of important ways from prior elections,” Traugott said.

He also discussed what he thinks will be important in the final weeks of campaigning for both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, which included the impact of COVID-19 and how the current administration has handled it, and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Interested in attending a future Wolverine Caucus program? Visit the Government Relations website to stay informed about upcoming events.