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August 31, 2016

Why #Election2016 is confounding many voters

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Essential question

Why are many voters feeling conflicted about which presidential candidate to vote for this November?


For an inside view into the choice facing voters, six Northern Virginia residents shared their thoughts on the presidential election, including whether or not the U.S. will become more unified in years to come.

Virginia is one of the most hotly contested states in this year’s race. So far Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is polling higher than Republican nominee Donald Trump, and yet, both candidates have the lowest likeability rating in record-keeping history.

“I have disavowed my association with the Republican Party for this election, because I find [Trump] morally repugnant,” said Bill Lupinacci, a long-time Republican voter and small business owner. Lupinacci said he doesn’t like the inflammatory language Trump uses at his rallies and feels it may incite violence.

But Republican Alison Katzman said she likes Trump’s straight-talking style which made her feel that the Republican nominee cared about “ordinary citizens.” She grew up in Appalachia where many people struggle to make ends meet. Katzman said it upset her to see immigrants who didn’t arrive in the U.S. legally take away resources from her community.

Marissa Baptista, PTA president and full-time working mother, disagreed. “It angers me when people say, well, we’re wasting all this money on these children that are illegal. They’re children. They want to be educated. They come here for a better life,” Baptista said.

And yet most of the Democrats in the group gave a lukewarm endorsement of Clinton. School principal Farah Imam questioned Clinton’s sincerity and said she may not vote if the choice is just between Clinton and Trump.

“I don’t find [Clinton] relatable…even though she’s a mother, she’s a working mother…she has a hard time relating to a broader population,” Imam said. However, she remained hopeful that the country will find ways to come together again. “This nation was built on hope and perseverance and renewed chances,” she said.


Key terms

rhetoric – language that is intended to influence people and may not be reasonable or honest

polling – an activity in which people are asked a question in order to get information about what most people think about something

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What are some key issues that have been discussed in the presidential race?
  2. Do you feel the media has done a good job covering the views of “regular” voters in the election?
  3. Would you consider voting for a candidate from a different political party than the one you typically identify with?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Why do you think so many voters like Farah Imam feel lukewarm about voting for Hillary Clinton?
  2. What are some reasons why voters like Bill Lupinacci, who’ve voted Republican for a long time, feel they cannot support Donald Trump?
  3. How much does political party affiliation influence who voters support?
Extension activity:

What are your political values? Where do you fall on the political spectrum? Take this political party quiz to find out. Questions look at an individual’s position on issues from government spending to gay marriage. Your score shows your likelihood of being Republican or Democrat and is based on a Pew March 2016 political survey.

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