SGA presidential race – week 1 analysis

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The only person that should be thankful the presidential election period has been extended is Sophomore Senator Dalton Turner.  Senator Turner was perceived undoubtedly as the hands on favorite to win the SGA presidential race, but someone forgot to tell fellow Sophomore Senator Mollie Davis that.  Turner’s front-runner style campaign has allowed Davis to land the first blow in the race.  In the first week of a month-long campaign, Davis has flooded the market with her brand on Facebook, YouTube and campus by pushing her message that she and running mate Josh Lovett are the “passionate leadership” that is needed to head SGA next year.

It is evident early on that Davis has constructed a well-organized campaign staff.  Davis’ amazing specificity and ingenuity in her platform gives off the persona of an innovative leader, while Turner’s platform resembles a remake of the issues that former president Trenton White ran on.  Davis and Turner spoke on Young Puns recently about why they both want to become president.  Stunningly, Davis gave crisp talking points while Turner seemed to respond on the fly.  These early stumbles may prove costly to Turner later on if he cannot respond in the second week of the campaign season.

Turner has made a costly mistake by allowing Davis to shape the narrative.  Whatever name recognition he initially had may possibly be erased by Davis’ early campaigning.  Her campaign has no doubt outworked him in the early going.  She has surrounded herself with serious students like Emily Halstead, Senator Bentley Hudgins, Senator Thornton Brewer and many others who are providing more than making a status update and changing profile pictures.  Davis has made it apparent that if she is going to lose this race it will not have been because Turner outworked her.

Both candidates, however, have much ground to make up.  In years past, presidential candidates needed to heavily pander to the underclassmen and social Greek societies as those students were most likely to vote.  In this election, however, all students need persuading as the polls for election will be open an entire week.  This may prove logistically important for Senator Davis as her team is at a disadvantage when it comes to access to on campus students.  Senator Turner’s running mate, Junior Senator Justin Robinson, is a Resident Advisor (RA).  An RA is authorized to enter any on campus dorm at any time of the day.  Senator Davis must have an escort to enter any hall on campus.  This logistical advantage by Turner could prove critical for meeting potential voters in the campaign.

An even larger hurdle Davis must overcome is the minority issue.  In a recent poll conducted, minorities were more likely to vote for a minority candidate for president than a white candidate.  With Senator Robinson on Turner’s ticket, Davis and Lovett will have to explain why minority students should vote for an all-white ticket.

The major aspect both campaigns seem to be missing, however, is the fact that senatorial races are running in conjunction with the presidential race.  Both Turner and Davis should be vying for endorsements by likely winners of the senatorial races.  If managed properly, either campaign could connect their candidacy with another well-liked student who could sway more votes for the presidential race.  Sharpe Sablon, for example, is a soccer player running for senior senator.  Mollie and Dalton should seek Sharpe’s endorsement to attract the athlete vote.  No doubt basketball players know Turner because he announces at the games, but if Sharpe endorsed Mollie that could pull student athlete votes to her side.  In any case, the candidate who has planned the best for the longer campaign season should win this race.  As it appears right now, Mollie may have a slight edge of Dalton.  Do not think for one second, though, that he has not noticed.

 

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