Is Purple the New Peach?

By: Lauren Sloan

Athens, Georgia – Although election polls predicted a deadlock race in Georgia in 2016, Republican nominee, Donald Trump, won the state 51-45, but political experts still agree the peach state is on a path toward purple.

Georgia has not “gone blue” since Southern Democrat, Bill Clinton, took office back in 1992, making 2016 polls rare and enticing. But Ryan Williamson, a PhD candidate studying elections, warns to take election polls with a grain of salt.

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“Polling is really finicky,” Williamson admitted. “Polling is exciting, but at the same time I think it can be misleading sometimes too.”

Dr. Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, knows this all too well. Many of the earlier polls were conducted right after the Democratic National Convention, he noted, thereby giving Clinton a deceptive advantage. He also mentioned speculation occurring in the political science world known as “the bashful Trump voter.” The phenomenon assumes Trump supporters were less likely to respond candidly to the polls, if they even agreed to respond at all. Moreover, Bullock warned that people may not have necessarily voted for Trump, but it may have just been a vote against Clinton.

The 2016 Candidates

“Hillary Clinton is not a good candidate.” Bullock admitted. “She’s not charismatic, she’s not inspiring, and so if she had to compete against, say Marco Rubio or John Kasich, I think she’d have been blown away.”

Dr. Barry Hollander, a professor at the University of Georgia teaching an undergraduate course on public opinion, agrees. Clinton was not an exciting candidate, he said, and noted her inability to galvanize voters in a way that got them to the voting booth. She had the experience, he said, but that was part of the problem. The people wanted change and the 2016 exit polls proved it. In fact, this year’s exit polls showed that 4 in 10 Georgians thought the most important quality in a candidate was his or her ability to bring about change. Of those voters, over 80% voted for Trump.

“I think Trump was the right message at the exact right time,” Hollander said. “There was a large chunk of society that wanted change. They’re tired of the status quo. They’re tired of the gridlock in DC,  they’re tired of nothing ever getting done….that isn’t the American way. The american way is to get stuff done.”

Trump’s message resonated with many Americans that felt left out, Dr. Hollander explained, especially those in the white, working class. In fact, even after Trump’s crude and misogynistic comments, exit polls showed Trump was still able to secure 70% of the white women vote in Georgia, a whopping 44% higher than Clinton.

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Though some of the exit poll results may seem surprising, Hollander admitted, with hindsight they are not that hard to believe. People have an incredible way of looking past things, he noted.

“I think it’s always been the case in American politics that jobs beat everything. Paying your bills beats everything. Sending your kids to school beats everything, putting food on the table beats everything,” Hollander said.  “And so they can look past his stuff about women.”

Geography

Despite this year’s results, not all hope should be lost for Georgian Democrats, Bullock admitted. Just twelve years ago, he said, there were only 3 blue counties in Metro-Atlanta: Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton. Obama added three more to it in 2008, he said, and this year, both Cobb and Gwinnett went blue as well. It was the mountain counties where Trump got the victory, Bullock admitted.

“The state itself will turn blue or turn purple when the urban vote outnumbers the rural vote,” Bullock predicted. “I think we will start seeing that in the 2020’s.”

Demographics

Although exit polls show Clinton won 89% of the black vote, and 67% of the Latino vote in Georgia, the two minorities only make up 34% of the state’s overall population. However, according to a PEW Research Center study, Georgia’s demographics are changing. The organization found a gradual increase in Georgia’s minority populations while showing a steady decrease in the state’s overall white population.

Jamie Carson, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in American politics, said that these demographic shifts are not usually mirrored in the voting booth. The issue, he explained, is that the demographics of the state are actually quite different than the voters of the state.

“Demographics are improving for the Democrats, but the turnout still reflects more of a Republican pattern,” Carson said. “You’d have to increase voter registration rates and participation rates among African Americans and Hispanics–and then they all have to turn out.”

In fact, Ryan Williamson, a PhD candidate studying American elections at the University of Georgia, said that lower income voters, minority voters, and younger voters are all significantly less likely to show up at the polls than their more conservative counterparts. However, he still believes that these demographic shifts will mix Georgia’s red and blue voters together in the future.

“Demographic shifts are contributing to a more purple-ish Georgia,” Williamson admitted. “But that appearance is being exaggerated by the presence of Trump. I don’t know that we’d see that close of a race with a more popular Republican candidate.”

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Is Purple the New Peach?

Although summer polls suggested Georgia might lose its red state-reign this 2016 election year, political experts agree that Georgia is not becoming blue, but is on a path toward purple.

In more recent peach state polls, Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has only been able to garner a very moderate GOP hold in Georgia, which is rare considering the state has not voted Democratic in almost 25 years. In fact, Georgia has only voted for two Democratic presidential candidates in the past 40 years: Bill Clinton back in 1992 and its very own Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980. Barry Hollander, a professor at the University of Georgia, teaching an undergraduate course on public opinion, believes Trump’s continuous, controversial remarks might explain why Georgia seems to be swinging this election cycle.

“The easy answer is Trump,” Hollander said. “It’s like barnacles on the bottom of the ship that accumulate and slow down that boat. Trump has all these barnacles growing on his campaign, the things he’s said, the people he’s pissed off, that is hurting him among enough traditional Republican voters that he’s doing less well than he should be.”

Trump’s contentious remarks about womenrace, and religion have even caused Republicans such George W. Bush and John McCain to withdraw their support. However, data has shown there might be more to the equation than just Trump himself. According to a PEW Research Center study, Georgia’s demographics are changing, and point to a steady increase in the state’s minority populations, all of whom tend to vote more liberally. Jamie Carson, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in American politics, does not expect to see these demographic shifts mirrored in the voting booth. The issue, he explained, is that the demographics of the state are actually quite different than the voters of the state.

“Demographics are improving for the Democrats, but turnout still reflects more of a Republican pattern,” Dr. Carson said. “You’d have to increase voter registration rates and participation rates among African Americans and Hispanics…and then they all have to turn out.”

In fact, Ryan Williamson, a PhD candidate studying American elections at the University of Georgia, said that lower income voters, minority voters, and younger voters are all significantly less likely to show up at the polls than their more conservative counterparts. However, he still believes that these demographic shifts could mix Georgia’s red and blue voters together in 2016.

“Demographic shifts are contributing to a more purple-ish GA,” Williamson admitted. “But that appearance is being exaggerated by the presence of Trump. I don’t know that we’d see that close of a race with a more popular Republican candidate.”

Both Williamson and Carson believe the peach state is still at least decade or two away from being a true swing state like that of Florida or North Carolina. The two agree demographic shifts take years to happen, let alone for them to change the entire outcome of a presidential election.

Words of Wisdom, Let it be

This summer, I sat down with Jane Williams, Executive Vice President of Television at Cox Media Group. Williams has this saying, a motto, if you will; one that embodies who she is as a person and shows how she has risen to such prominence today.

So, what’s this motto, you ask? One that she even hung up on her wall. It goes a little something like this:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” -Maya Angelou 

And boy, is it true. Though the girls won’t forget what Mrs. Williams said (they took detailed notes, of course) they definitely won’t ever forget how empowered she made them feel, especially as two young women entering the work force (no notes needed there).

Here’s what I learned:

  • Always do the right thing

What’s the difference between managers and leaders? Managers do things right. But leaders do the right thing. There’s a difference there, and that difference is key.

  • Never run from conflict

Don’t be afraid of conflict. Address the problem head-on; there’s no point in running from the inevitable, you’re going to have to deal with the issue eventually. Even if you simply agree to disagree, at least you’re not avoiding the problem.

  • A good sense of humor can go a long way

When faced with difficult situations or discussions, Williams likes to use her humor to diffuse the situation and lighten the mood. The opportunity to make someone smile is priceless, she says. And what better way to do that than laughter.

  • Life’s a dance

Some people say life’s not a destination, it’s a journey. But Jane has a different saying: life’s a dance. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t have a great time while dancing? Exactly… So dance everyday; enjoy it.

  • Focus on making your boss look good **Hey Alex, YOU’RE THE BEST!!!**

Yup, that’s her philosophy. But you see, the trick is you can’t do it for a promotion; you need to do it because you genuinely care. Eventually, your hard work and good morale will give you a good name in the industry. And before you know it, people will be tapping on your shoulder asking you to make them look that good. So really it’s a win, win.

 

Thank you, Jane Williams, for being a true inspiration for the future of the business.

-Lauren Sloan, NewsON Intern

Problems to Peace

By: Lauren Sloan

Debbie Dix was reluctant for her son to serve in the Peace Corps, especially given all of the beheadings and chaos in the region at the time. She wanted her son to come back with his head—a reasonable request from any mother, let alone a Jewish one. But in 2005 her tall, dark-eyed son was off to Uzbekistan, and so she supported him nonetheless. When he came home from his service in 2007, he not only returned with his head, but he also brought back the experience of a lifetime.

Uzbekistan was different than anything Josh Dix had ever experienced before.

“Imagine a thousand Arabian nights with Soviet infrastructure everywhere,” Josh explained. “That’s basically Uzbekistan.”

Culture shock would be an understatement. Uzbekistan was Josh’s first trip to a Muslim country; a country where he was advised to keep his faith a secret from some of his own students; a place where he wasn’t Jewish, he was strictly American. But there was a problem: he was Jewish. Actually, he was very Jewish.

Growing up in the suburbs of East Cobb, Georgia, Dix was raised religious, where he attended synagogue regularly and went to Hebrew school. Judaism was, and still is, an integral part of his life.

Though the culture in Uzbekistan was quite different than what Josh grew up with, he managed to find some familiarity within the country.

“If you could believe it, there was a Hillel in Uzbekistan,” he admitted with a smile. “There’s a pretty big Jewish community left in Uzbekistan.”

Though 88% of the country’s population is Muslim, over 4,000 Jews still call Uzbekistan their home. These surprising numbers are remnants of communist times, says Rabbi Michoel Refson, co-director of Chabad at the University of Georgia, when thousands of Jews fled the former USSR in order to keep their religion safe.

Despite the Jews’ presence in the country, however, they were still a minority, and found themselves to be slightly misunderstood. For example, while the Christian volunteers were permitted time off for holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the local Peace Corps preferred that Josh worked on important holidays such as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. He refused; he insisted on observing his holy days, regardless of other’s opinions.

“It’s not that they weren’t accepting,” Dix admits. “It’s just that they didn’t understand it.”

Moldova wasn’t much different. When civil unrest forced Josh out of Uzbekistan just six months after he started his service, he was transferred to Moldova. He quickly realized this country carried misconceptions about his faith as well.

Moldova was a country affected by the pogroms, Dix recalled; there are still some misconceptions and anti-Semitism left in the country.

Josh experienced these misjudgments firsthand while teaching at a local University in Moldova, Comrat State University. To demonstrate the liberties that come with freedom of speech, Josh decided to talk about the Muhammad cartoons; it was a stupid idea, even he admits it. The students started screaming and shouting in Turkish and Josh completely lost control of the class.

“Basically this guy was in the process of convincing everybody that I was a Jewish spy sent from Israel to convert them and to tear them away from Islam,” Josh said with surprise.

His students never came to class again—until the day of the final. They asked Josh why he hated them and why he said those awful things about Muhammad. Josh sat down. The questions kept coming like cannons. Is it true you eat the flesh of babies? Do you know every Jew in the world? Is it true you own Nokia? Do you really have horns?

Textbooks and television fed them these fallacies, but Josh spoke the truth. For three hours he answered question after question, dispelled myth after myth until they could ask no more. They realized they had misjudged him.

That following year, these students became his strongest class. They attended every lecture and participated in every discussion; they loved him.

“Had I told Peace Corps about what had happened, they would have probably moved me to another site,” Josh said. “And that group of kids would not understand what freedom of speech actually is… and they would’ve carried those misconceptions about Jews their entire lives.”

But he didn’t tell Peace Corps. Thank goodness he didn’t tell the Peace Corps.

 

How To Travel Alone in your Twenties

By: Lauren Sloan

While your friends are off planning their future families and careers, all you seem to plan is your next adventure—alone. But don’t fret; Carolyn Crist, an avid traveler and teacher’s assistant for the University of Georgia’s study abroad program has some helpful hints to help you sojourn solo.

1. Budget

“The biggest thing to think about is budget,” she says. “I think a lot of young or new travelers forget to budget extra for things like meals that you don’t anticipate are going to be more.” Have your funds ready ahead of time—souvenirs, food, water and entertainment add up.

2. Be smart

“Especially when you’re alone, just keep a watchful eye on things,” Crist advises. Stay in well-lit, public areas, plan ahead and always keep your head about you.

3. Stay in hostels

“Hostels are great,” she admits, “especially in Europe.” Not to mention they’re a cheap and easy way to meet people. Try and look at ratings and reviews ahead of time on websites such as Hostelworld.com to ensure you have a clean, respectable place to stay after a long day of exploring.

4. Stay Calm

When you inevitably get lost, don’t panic; stay calm and take a second to regroup. “Duck into a store, bathroom or restaurant,” suggests Crist. “Pause, be inconspicuous and figure out where you’re going.”

5. Try new modes of transportation

Trying unique modes of transportation such as bullet trains or ferries is a great way to step out of your comfort zone while stepping into new sites and cities.

6. Don’t be afraid to talk to people

When in public places, listen for English and make friends by introducing yourself. You may have started the journey solo, but you definitely don’t have to end that way.

7. Enjoy!

Traveling alone can be the perfect time for self-discovery, personal growth and wonder. So pack your bags, grab your passport and hit the road.