Presidential Elections and Voters In order for one to become president of the United States, he or she must gain

the votes from the public. There are various ways of getting votes. Nominees go through months of campaigning to get the votes necessary to win the state. Some believe that the public makes the decision for president long before the campaigns even start, and others believe that the campaigns are necessary to gain votes for a president. A campaign in itself is not necessary to influence the public's decision. The focus is not whether the campaign has the influential power to change people's opinion, but the focus is on the actual individual who is voting. The individual has the power to choose whether to let the campaign influence his or her opinion or to make the decision before the campaign. There are both cases when the individual makes a decision for president before the campaign starts and when the individual makes a decision for president because of the influence of the campaign. Campaigns do matter in a democratic society and they are important to a certain extent for those who actually follow the campaigns, but they are not as important for everyone. Not anyone can just run for president. There are certain qualifications that a person must have to become president. He or she must prove the nation that he or she is able to lead a nation. The, "…qualities of the candidate are extremely important influences on how people vote" (Fiorina and Peterson 302). Campaigns are a way to prove one's qualifications. Campaigns are important to a democratic society because they provide information for the nation about the candidate. Robert Dole is an example of how campaigns show one's qualifications. Due to Dole's uninspired campaign, he was viewed as a horrible candidate. In 1994, Dole was viewed as a strong political figure. He did not change two years later and didn't adapt to the different strengths at the time. (Fiorina and Peterson 302). If there was no campaign to show Dole's qualifications, then the United States would have an inadequate president. Campaigns are important to democratic society to show qualifications of a candidate, but not all campaigns have been effective for a voter's decisions. Throughout many presidential elections, individuals have made their decision to vote for a particular president nominee before the campaigns even start. Morris Fiorina and Paul Peterson explain why this is so: "How can people make up their minds before policies and programs are debated in the fall campaign? The answer is simply that Americans decide how to vote not only on the basis of the short-term considerations that dominate the campaign (the candidates and the positions they advocate) but also on the basis of longer-term considerations that arise years before the campaign get under way" (Fiorina and Peterson 299). Many people vote because of the party they identify with the most. A person who identifies with the Republican Party most likely will vote for a Republican president even before the campaign begins. The Civil War and Reconstruction period provide good examples of this: "… the Civil War and Reconstruction created many ‘yellow dog' Democrats in the South – people who wouldn't vote for a Republican if the Democratic nominee were a yellow dog" (Fiorina and Peterson 299). The yellow dog Democrats were committed not to vote a Republican. The campaign of the Republican Party did not influence the opinions of the yellow dogs no matter how inspiring the campaign could be. This shows that campaigns alone cannot be the solo influence for an individual's vote. Samuel Popkins says that, "Campaigns are blunt instruments, not scalpels" (Popkin 168). Voters have the choice to either follow the campaigns and make a decision based on what they think is best or to stick with their personal beliefs that were established before. Campaigns are not important to everyone. To one voter, it can be just a waste of money and time, and to another, it can be the factor that influences his or her decision. The focus is not on the campaign, but it is on the individual who chooses to vote.

The role of media is very important in a presidential campaign. In order for a campaign to be presented, it must be broadcasted through media for the public to hear. Professor Garrick Percival mentions that, "Media is the supplier of important political information" (Percival). Throughout history of America, media has been used to, "…provide for ‘freedom of the press'" (Percival), to make an, "Adversarial relationship between media and government" (Percival), and to seek, "…to report ‘truth' while sifting through political rhetoric" (Percival), but in a presidential campaign, media has been used to manipulate people's mind. An example of this is the debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy (Fiorina and Peterson 268). In this debate, people who saw the debate on television felt that Kennedy did a better job on the debate. People who heard the debate over the radio felt that Nixon did better. This doesn't make sense if media does not have influence over people's minds. Through visual presentation, Kennedy was perceived to look better than Nixon. According to Professor Percival, Nixon had a problem with perspiration around the mouth area while Kennedy had an attention grabbing smile when he debated. Kennedy's visual presentation showed that he did better in the debate. Those who heard the debate over radio felt that Nixon had better content in the debate; therefore, the radio listeners felt that Nixon did better. Through media, presidential campaigns can manipulate minds to think a certain way. Media is just a tool for campaigns to use so they can possibly influence a voter's way of thinking. Again, the focus is not on the tool that is used to influence, but the focus is on the voter. The voter still has the choice to make the decision to be influenced by the media or to stick with they believe in. The key word is "can." Media can be used to influence the minds of the public. Media is not the driving force of influence for a voter, but it can be the driving force. America is composed of a diverse population. Communities consist of people who are extremely educated through the countless years of education and people who do not know how to read. Since people are so diverse, there will never be perfection in selecting a president in a democratic society. I believe that people do make good political choices, but I believe not all of them make good choices. A person makes a good decision when he or she makes a clear and conscious decision about what they are going to do. According to Popkins, "Campaigns attempt to achieve a common focus, to make one distinction paramount in voter's minds (Popkin 158). A campaign is meant for a voter to be more aware of a particular subject to help him or her to make that decision. A good voter considers his or her own beliefs and the ideas of the candidate to make the best possible way of making others happy although the information available may not be the most reliable. I am not implying that a more educated person makes the best decision, but they tend to, "…pay attention to more problems and are more sensitive to connections between their lives and national and international events (Popkins 160). Still, an educated person can be so caught up in his or her pride to make the wrong decision. An uneducated person can still make a good vote by considering what the best way of ideology is. A bad decision is one who makes a decision without thinking being so influenced by the campaigns or being stuck up in his or her beliefs. The focus is not on how great a campaign can be, but how the voter responds in the election period. The many examples show that the focus is on the voter instead of the importance of campaign. Campaigns are just tools getting a voter aware of political ideologies. Campaigns are important in a democratic society, but campaigns are not the focus. Democracy comes from the Greek root "demos" which means people. A healthy democracy is not measured in great campaigns, but rather in the people.

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