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Presidential Election

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In 2004, the election has been the "biggest" news of the year. In 2000, the presidential election was marred by turmoil and scandal over the Florida punch card votes and alleged racial discrimination acts against minorities at the polls. The article, "Poll: U.S. Voters Skeptical of Elections" revisits the horror of the 2000 election and examines the current position of voters, Republicans, and Democrats on the accuracy of our (the U.S.) voting methods. The article states that six out of every ten Republicans and persons surveyed believed that no clear winner will be determined by November 3, 2004 and seven out of every ten Democrats feel the same. In addition, one-half of the voters feared the results would be challenged in the Supreme Court. Both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, have filed lawsuits over a variety of complaints--ranging from how provisional ballots are counted to alleged fraud in voter registration. The article states that a majority say that they are confident the vote count in their own state will be accurate, but when Democrats, as a group are asked less than one-half of them say that they are "very confident" their state's vote count will be accurate, while three-fourths of Republicans feel that their state's vote count will be accurate. The article says that during the closing days of the campaign, close tabs are being kept on Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Mexico, which are all potential battleground states where a challenge to a close race might be lodged November 3, 2004. When reviewing the 2000 election and the Florida catastrophe more than one-half, 54 percent to be exact, thought that the vote count was unfair and inaccurate. The Democrats overwhelmingly say that the vote count was unfair and inaccurate while Republicans overwhelmingly say that the vote count was fair and accurate. Independents say by a 2-to-1 margin that it was not fair. The conclusion drawn by the article is that political and legal challenges far outweigh any other worries intended to disrupt the elections. For millions of Americans every vote no longer counts.

In political debates and elections the application of schemas, mental structures people use to organize their knowledge about the social world around themes or subjects and that influence the information people notice, think about, and remember, are very important in getting support, votes, and earning the trust of millions of Americans in Democracy and our processes. Schemas are applied through accessibility and priming which is evident in this article. The accessibility of schemas is defined as the extent to which schemas and concepts are at the forefront of the mind and are judgments about the social world. There are two types of accessibility: (1) schemas that are chronically accessible due to past experiences. These are constantly active and ready to use to interpret ambiguous situations. (2) Schemas that are temporarily accessible for reasons that are more arbitrary. This particular schema is not always accessible but happens to be primed. Priming is the process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a schema, trait, or concept, by something people have been thinking or doing before encountering an event. Bargh and Pietromonaco studied accessibility and priming of schemas in 1987. They temporarily activated and manipulated schemas by flashing either hostile or neutral words across a screen so that people would interpret them in a certain way and behave accordingly, with what words they were exposed. The study showed that schemas could be temporarily activated and manipulated so people would behave in a certain manner. In the article, the Democrats and Republicans experience temporarily accessible schemas that are activated in certain situations. When they are asked about voting they say that they do not feel confident in the voting processes and fear that the election results will be contested in court. Their assessment is that the 2000 election controversy between President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore is the cause of such skepticism. The past experience of ballots being allegedly inaccurately calculated and resulting in the election proceeding to current President George Bush activates schemas, which leads Democrats to believe that the voting processes will be unfair and fail them again as it had in 2000. It also leads Republicans to feel that once again the Democrats will challenge the results of the election in court as they had in 2000 leading to another long drawn out presidential race conflict. These schemas are activated or primed by the 2004 presidential election where voters are put in an almost identical situation as in 2000, tight races in a couple of states, Florida once again, in which some districts still use punch card ballots which were the leading cause of controversy in the 2000 presidential race. This situation temporarily activates the schemas, or beliefs, they developed and still held from the 2000 election resulting in the difference of opinions in Democrats and Republicans and skepticism amongst both parties.

Another theory that is evident in this current event is the Cognitive Appraisal Theories of Emotion. This theory holds that emotions result from people's interpretations and explanations of events, even in the absence of physiological arousal. The appraisal stems from two questions: (1) "Do you think the event has good or bad implications for you?" and (2) "How do you explain what caused the event?" Overall people try to explain the causes of an event and their reactions to it. This has been tested by this was explored by Tesser in 1988 by examining the reaction of individuals when their friend gets something they have wanted all of their lives and their emotions are a result of whether the implications of the event are good or bad. Relevant to the article, the Democrats reported that the event, voting in presidential elections, has had bad implications for their group. They would attribute the cause of the event to miscalculated and inaccurate ballots found in the state of Florida during the 2000 election or a Republican conspiracy. Their votes seemed as if they did not count in determining the presidential election of 2000 because the election was "handed" to George Bush by the Supreme Court. The emotions that stemmed from the 2000 election and



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