In graphics: How Trump conquered the industrial and Democratic heart of the US

Screenshot from a article that quoted Penn State Professor Michael Berkman about the 2016 presidential election.

Screenshot from a article that quoted Penn State Professor Michael Berkman about the 2016 presidential election.

Michael Berkman, Penn State political science professor and director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, was quoted recently in a Univision article about Pennsylvania voters and the presidential election outcome. Here’s an excerpt:

Michael Berkman

Michael Berkman

“During Trump’s repeated visits to the three states, he promised to bring back jobs by canceling free trade treaties, which he blamed for pushing U.S. jobs to other countries. Michael Berkman, a professor at Penn State University, said that ‘definitely there are areas that Trump campaigned harder and had a compelling message.’

“For Ballard and Berkman, the economy was not the only reason for the GOP victory. Trump also had an effective anti-immigration message, and won almost all the counties with white majorities.”


New poll: Pennsylvanians have positive perceptions of government performance

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A new poll shows that most Pennsylvanians feel that their state and federal governments are doing a good job in delivering public services, but some segments of the population are less positive. According to researchers in Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Public Affairs, the survey results could have implications in the upcoming elections and also highlight groups of citizens requiring more attention from policymakers and agency administrators.

The data consist of responses from 660 randomly selected adult Pennsylvania residents who were asked two versions of the same question: “Please think about the job the [federal/state] government is doing in delivering services. Examples of services include transportation, parks and recreation, responding to natural disasters, and keeping people safe. Is the [federal/state] government doing a very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or very bad job?” (The data was collected as part of an omnibus survey administered by telephone through the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg between Aug. 18 and Oct. 15, 2016.)

As was the case with participants in a national telephone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, most Pennsylvania residents in this survey had positive views about the overall performance of the federal and state government. Overall, 69.2 percent of Pennsylvanians rated somewhat good or very good the performance of the federal government in delivering public services. A slightly lower percentage, 64.7 percent, had the same perception for services provided by the Commonwealth.

“One way we can understand citizen voting behavior is by assessing their perceptions of government performance – whether citizens think government is doing a good job or not in delivering services,” said Patria de Lancer Julnes, director of the School of Public Affairs. “These perceptions are often interpreted as a reflection of trust in government and have been found to make a difference for incumbents in elections, with voters often castigating poor performance.”

Pennsylvania leaned Republican for most of the 20th century, but has voted for Democratic candidates for president since 1992. With a Democratic governor currently in office, Pennsylvania is considered a battleground state for the 2016 presidential election. The Democratic presidential vote of Pennsylvania in the last six national elections has been driven by the more urban and densely populated cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

According to Michele Tantardini, assistant professor of public administration, from a management perspective, gauging citizen satisfaction is not only an accountability tool but also a feedback mechanism that could potentially help to improve programs and policies.

In the recent survey, certain groups of respondents were not as positive as the respondents overall. Regarding federal government services, Northwestern Pennsylvanians, minorities, non-Democratic party affiliates, and those with only some college education were less positive. In evaluating state government services, 35 to 64 year olds, men, minorities, non-Democratic party affiliates, and those with graduate work were less positive than citizens overall.

“All of this information provides policymakers a glimpse of the mood of Pennsylvanians prior to the presidential elections,” Julnes said. “Although overall it is positive toward the incumbent party, some segments of the population are less satisfied with this performance. If, as suggested by prior research, positive perceptions of performance are a proxy for support for incumbents, then the Democratic Party could do well in Pennsylvania in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, prior research also suggests that those with more negative perceptions might cast their vote for opposition parties even though there may be no assurances that they would improve performance.”

For additional information, see the Nov. 1, 2016 Public Administration Research Brief.

Election day apathy worries local, state officials

Image credit: Penn State

Image credit: Penn State

Penn State political science Professor Eric Plutzer was quoted in a recent Philadelphia Tribune article about election fatigue. Here’s a excerpt:

“A Pew Research Center poll conducted from June 7 — July 5 and published on July 14 found that six in 10 Americans were worn out of political news coverage. When asked, people said there was too much air time or space given to what the candidates said on the campaign trail. Very few said that experience or stances on issues received too much attention.

Eric Plutzer

Eric Plutzer

“Pennsylvania State University political science professor Eric Plutzer cited two kinds of election fatigue afflicting Americans in this election cycle.

“ ‘For those who are normally disengaged from politics … the barrage of negative advertising prevents them from escaping in the pleasure of a ball game or favorite television show,’ Plutzer wrote in an email to The Tribune. ‘It’s a never ending stream of negativity that is unpleasant and reinforces the idea that our system is broken.’

“As for the more active voting citizens, Plutzer said nearly all of them have concluded that the election of Trump or Clinton will be unwelcome.

“ ‘They are stressed out by the prospect of their least-liked candidate winning,’ Plutzer added. ‘They wish the election was over so as to reduce their anxiety.’”

Read the full story at

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