Erika S. – BASIS Oro Valley

BASIS Oro Valley Senior Erika S.

The Butterfly Effect: the 2016 American Presidental Election Edition

Project/blog link: The Butterfly Effect: the 2016 American Presidental Election Edition
BASIS Advisor: Curtis Westbay
Internship location: Washington, DC
Onsite Mentor: Samara Klar, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Arizona

Project Abstract

On November 9th, 2016 many Americans woke up to unexpected presidential election results. We were bewildered that the media, history, and society had seemed to dictate entirely different results, but political scientists weren’t in the same boat. Many could point at evidence throughout the election, and even historically, that indicated Donald Trump would be elected President. I’m diving head-first into the ocean of information about this election to find out what clues the general public missed. My approach is focused on the concept of the butterfly effect, which emphasizes that small causes have large effects. I am looking at interpretations from political scientists, news coverage, and historical precedent to analyze the smaller events that took place during the campaign, in order to connect their impact to the overall results of the election. I intend to show how things like the debates, the 2008 Democratic primaries, and Brianna Keilar were small ripples that caused major waves in campaigns the nation thought would see smooth sailing. By proving the interconnectedness of all of these events, I am not intending to highlight how predetermined everything is, but rather how much effect a small act can have. Young people and minorities turn out to vote in low numbers because voting, and other means of political involvement, seem don’t seem big enough to change anything. I hope to fight this notion by showing that anything, no matter how small, can affect our future.

The Butterfly Effect: the 2016 American Presidental Election Edition