A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the perceived apathy of UC Irvine students towards the then upcoming Associated Students of UC Irvine government elections.
Now that those elections have come and gone, it’s necessary to examine not only the results, but also what the deciding factors were that carried certain candidates to victory and others to defeat.
This election proved to be no different than other political races, where the candidates who spend the most money usually find themselves in the winners’ circle.
Why, you ask, does spending more money translate into an election victory on the college level? The ASUCI elections are all about name recognition. If a voter remembers a candidate’s name from a poster, flier or other t-shirt, then they are more likely to vote for that candidate.
Alex Wong, a third-year sociology major, noticed that some candidates’ campaigns included a lot of free food and drinks, and saw that these candidates in turn were more widely recognized.
‘The candidates with more money appealed to more people,’ Wong said, ‘whereas the candidates with less money had less of an advantage, because people these days are sold on what is given to them for free.’
At a large school like UCI, with almost 20,000 undergraduate students, one does not have the luxury of getting to know the candidates’ platforms and their stances on every issue. The candidates, and ASUCI, did not stress the importance of getting to know the issues through the debates and other forums available to them. This is made evident by examining why people voted for whom they did and why certain candidates were able to win by spending hundreds of dollars to saturate UCI with their advertisements.
‘Maybe we could say that the person who spent the most money was willing to spend that much and maybe that person does care more,’ Wong said. ‘But then again I don’t know the issues and ASUCI business very well. From what I saw, everyone seemed to be the same for the most part, selling their image over the issues they were representing.’
Did the candidates who spent the most time and effort on their campaigns probably win? Yes. Hopefully, this carries over to the commitment and level of dedication and passion they will bring to their elected offices.
Another interesting feature of this year’s election was the Cross-Cultural Center’s campaign. Although this turned out to be a losing strategy