It is not uncommon to hear students discuss the “Malone bubble:” a small area and small community, set apart and tucked away from the rest of the world, where an individual remains mostly concerned and preoccupied with matters related to and within this safe, tight-knit population.
This is not to say those who reside within the Malone bubble are not aware of what is taking place outside of the imaginary, protective layer. Right now there is something so prevalent, so demanding of attention, that it is nearly impossible to avoid public discourse surrounding the matter.
Students may have seen it on TV, scrolled past it on Twitter, listened to a professor talk about it in class or avoided Facebook because of it: the 2016 Presidential race.
This week Ohioans will make their way to the polls to vote in the Ohio presidential primary election. The Ohio hybrid primary election system allows unaffiliated registered voters to vote in the party primary of their choice, while voters registered with a party vote within their affiliated party’s primary. Primary and caucus elections are done in an effort to choose a party’s Presidential nominee for the general election.
A candidate wins the nomination after securing a specific number of delegates. The Democratic party awards delegates proportionally- if a candidate wins two-thirds of the primary vote, they receive two-thirds of the delegates. This varies on the Republican side as delegates are rewarded on either a proportional basis, winner-take-all or other hybrid systems. In order to secure the Democratic party nomination, a candidate must receive at least 2,382 out of 4,763 delegates and the Republican candidate must be awarded at least 1,237 out of 2,742.
How informed are Malone students on the primary election, party candidates, their stances and the general Presidential election?
The following statistics represent a random polling done the last week of February on a variety of anonymous Malone students. 96 percent of students were unaware of when the Ohio primary will take place, and only a small percentage of registered voters even plan to vote.
The Republican party showed the highest percentage of student affiliation, with Senator Rubio receiving the most support among the Republican candidate options presented. Senator Bernie Sanders brought in the highest percentage among all candidates, and 55 percent of students remain undecided in their support of a candidate.
“That’s normal and pretty typical. Most of the average voters aren’t that tuned in until November in the Presidential election,” said Scott Waalkes, professor of international politics. “Around this time of year, it starts to build interest. From now until November, I think you’ll see people getting more connected and engaged.”
As the elections have progressed and will continue to do so, the nature of this presidential race has compelled people to urgently further their understanding and engagement.
“It’ a very unusual race because everyone is angry about the status quo and want someone outside of the status quo. I think people are angry and they want change,” Waalkes said.
The author of an article written by The Wall Street Journal, titled “Why the 2016 Election is Different,” further expands on this. “This election was always bound to be more wild and woolly than normal… the presidential campaign is being conducted against an unprecedented backdrop of disdain for the political establishment and the status quo in Washington.”
If this election is so different, so pivotal, intense and important, how do the 55% of undecided Malone students to begin making decisions about their political stances?
Andrew Campbell, a political science major currently studying in Washington D.C., offers some insight.
“First step is to become aware of what is happening. Begin to research the stances that each candidate takes and don’t be afraid to ask questions to professors or others who have been following politics longer,” Campbell said. “An easy way for students to become aware is to follow good news sources on social media platforms like Twitter that will provide updates on it. @politico @thehill for national politics and for foreign politics @ForeignPolicy. For easy listening on the news NPR is a fair news outlet.”
“Lastly, be open to creating dialogue with others on campus about politics in a respectful and healthy manner. Come to understand where common ground may be found with different topics etc. My hope is that as this election season builds up to the climatic moment in November that the “Malone bubble” would be shattered in new and healthy ways when it comes to political engagement.”
Rachel Pelletier is a Staff Writer for The Aviso