Category: Elections

NYU Florence Poll Results

Last Thursday, November 10th 2016, Kennedy Hill and I polled some of the NYU Florence student body regarding the results of the 2016 Election. We received 54 responses, which is about a sixth of the entire student body. These results are not reflective of the entire student body sentiment at NYU Florence. Instead, they serve as a way to gauge the general themes of the NYU Florence student body’s political opinions.

Here are the questions we asked:

Did you vote?

Did you think Trump would win?

Are you satisfied with the election results (President, Senate, House)

Are there people in your political or personal sphere who accurately predicted the results?

Are you more pessimistic or optimistic about politics post election?

Are you more likely to be politically engaged post election?

Are you more likely to participate in protest post election?

Results are as follows:

55.6% voted in the General Election

37% didn’t vote in the General Election

7.4% not US citizens

87% of students did not think Trump would win.

88.9% of people are UNSATISFIED with the Presidential, House, and Senate results

59.3% did not have people in their personal or political sphere who predicted Trumps win .

61.1% are more pessimistic, 29.6% neither , 9.3% optimistic

74.1% likely to be more politically engaged

55.6% more likely to protest post election

What these results reflect is relatively unsurprising. We represent general trends of our generation, the millennial generation, as a whole. About half of eligible voters between the age of 18 and 32 (the approximate millennial age range) voted in the General Election. The overwhelming majority of students both myself and Kennedy have encountered over our three years at NYU are socially and politically left, including those studying here in Florence. We were overwhelmingly surprised by Trump’s victory, and feel generally unhappy with the results of the General Election. Again, this falls in line with overall millennial sentiment. If only millennials had voted in the election, Clinton would have won by a landslide. We are more pessimistic about politics than before the election, and yet are more likely to be politically active and engage in protest.

Millennials are the generation who will feel the effects of the policies of the Trump White House for decades to come. Prior to the election, we were a generation with record levels of political apathy.  It seems that this election may be the catalyst which inspires and Millennials.

News from Abroad: The U.S. Election

Following the town hall debate last week between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the spotlight from news sources around the world is back on the U.S. elections. From China to Brazil and the United Kingdom, we take a look at the views from abroad of the U.S. elections this past week.

U.S. press generally favoring Clinton over Trump by Kira Boden-Gologorsky

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. coverage of last week’s first presidential debate was ample. The analysis from ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ media was predictable.

The New York Times, a center-left news outlet, ran numerous articles on the debate, ranging from criticism of Donald Trump’s tactics, to how and why Hillary Clinton won the debate, to a general fact check of the candidates’ statements. CNN, a moderate news source, featured a lot of empirical data from the event, and generally favored Hillary over Trump. The Rush Limbaugh show, a conservative radio news source, favored Trump.

Brazilian press concerned about anti-free trade platforms of both candidates by Juliana Coelho

As Brazil has been facing a time of political and economic hardships, which include the recent impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and continuous money laundering investigations, the American presidential election isn’t considered a priority in the media. However, both candidates have faced criticism in Brazil: On one side, a Brazilian blog has gone viral for alleging that Trump called Brazilian immigrants “Latino pigs,” infuriating both Brazilians who live abroad and at home; on the other side, the impeachment of Dilma had a slightly negative effect on Hillary’s campaign, as in 2015 she used Brazil as an example of why the U.S. should also elect a female president. Also, considering more practical issues, Brazil’s commercial relations with the United States seem to worry Brazilians. Brazil was not mentioned in the debates. Both candidates are against future trade partnerships, which could potentially lead Brazil to greater economic disadvantage due to isolation and exclusion.

Sources: BBC Brazil, Globo (both neutral regarding foreign politics) and

Read more

The Victory of the Scottish ‘No’ Vote

By Davide Lombardo, NYU Florence Professor

The victory of the Scottish ´NO´ vote was largely expected. The Scottish nation (no need for a history or political science degree, everybody with a passion for Rugby knows it is a Nation) will not gain its own independent government and will not leave the Union with the other three Nations of the UK.

From the EU perspective at the institutional level, it is one headache taken off a long list. In the case of a victory of the ´YES´ vote, the likely domino effect in other areas in Europe would have triggered a major crisis at the continental level. However, the results of the Scottish vote warn us that the spectre of small countries, triggered back in the early 1990s with the Yugoslavian war and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, 25 years down the line may be backfiring in Western Europe. How are such small governments to survive the political and economic challenges of the old and new giants, the U.S., Russia, China, India, and Brazil?

The countries of Europe should be giving some sort of political answer to the above question.

European Parliamentary Elections 2014


In the run up to next spring’s European parliamentary elections, Luke Baker of Reuters takes the temperature:

In the diplomatic parlor games popular in Brussels, few issues are generating more gossip or being talked about more animatedly than next year’s elections to the European Parliament.

Read the full article here

Professor Philippe Schmitter will join us this fall to talk about the current crisis and the future of the European Union.  Save the date: September 23, 2013!

Analyzing Presidential Debates with Robert Shrum Part I: 1960

By Joseph Solomita, NYU Florence student

In the first part of a four part workshop series, Robert Shrum, political analyst, former Democratic strategist and Senior Fellow at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, analyzed the 1960 presidential election.  It was an intimate gathering consisting of a dozen or so students in which Professor Shrum integrated clips from the first ever televised presidential debate into his presentation.  Keeping the format relaxed and informal encouraged the students to interject and ask questions throughout the hour and a half long dialogue.

The first set of clips shown were the opening statements of the two candidates, Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. Shrum advised students to focus on both the content of the speeches as well as the demeanor of the two candidates.  Prior to playing the speeches, Shrum mentioned that then Vice President Nixon held a lead in the polls and was considered to be the more experienced candidate.  It was Senator Kennedy, however, who seemed to dominate the debate, thus marking it as a critical turning point in the race. Shrum would sporadically pause in the middle of some responses to point out the strengths and weakness of each candidate.

As Kennedy appeared to most of the students present to be well rehearsed, inspiring and presidential, Vice President Nixon came off as angry, pompous and disheveled.  Shrum explained some of the reasons behind these perceptions and gave the clear demeanor advantage to Kennedy.  It turns out that Nixon refused to wear makeup, while Kennedy showed up almost an hour early to get his hair and makeup perfected. Kennedy, who had already made a plethora of television appearances, seemed to work the stage flawlessly.  He also maintained eye contact with the camera, almost as if he was speaking directly to the American people on the other side of the screen, he controlled his composure throughout the debate and never reacted poorly to any of Nixon’s comments.  Even when he made the mistake of starting one of his answers from his seat, he managed to make his way to the podium without missing a beat.

Nixon, however, did not display as much grace.  He continued to roll his eyes and vigorously shake his head in discontent after many of Kennedy’s comments. Overall, he was not as familiar with being on camera and that was evident from the start.  He chose a suit that was the same color as the set, causing him to fade into the background of the black and white screen, he continued to keep eye contact with the panelists rather then the camera which made him seem distant to the viewers, and his lack of makeup caused immense perspiration throughout the debate. Nixon had also suffered pretty dramatic weight loss from a recent visit to the hospital and never got his suit adjusted accordingly.

Shrum did go on to analyze the content of both candidates’ responses in terms of substance and concluded that Kennedy had the stronger performance in that aspect as well.  However, it was Shrum’s meticulous examination of the candidates’ appearance, body language and mannerisms that seemed to intrigue the students most.

The second part of this workshop series will analyze the 1980 presidential election between incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter, his Republican opponent, former California Governor Ronald Reagan, and Republican Congressman John B. Anderson, who ran as an independent. This event will be taking place next Wednesday, March 6, in Villa Sassetti.  For more information or to RSVP email us at or call 055 5007202.

Robert Shrum: kinda an awesome guy

By: NYU Florence Sophomore Morgan Hubbard

The definition of a modern Renaissance man, Robert Shrum is a man of many talents—a political analyst, a Democratic strategist and speechwriter, and a senior fellow at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service to name a few. The Atlantic Monthly describes Shrum as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party.” Originally from a suburb of Pittsburg, Shrum later moved to Los Angeles where he attended Loyola High School before continuing on to Georgetown University, earning his undergraduate degree before completing a Juris Doctor Degree at Harvard Univeristy. Shrum hit the ground running and kick started his political career as a speechwriter for John Lindsay and Edmund Muskie, in their respective campaigns for the Mayor of New York City. Later he worked with George McGovern and spent time on Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign. Thereafter, Shrum served as the staff director and chief council of the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs; in 1980 Shrum worked as Edward Kennedy’s principal speechwriter, most lauded for his speech presented at the 1980 Democratic Convention. In 1986 Shrum began work as a political consultant for Democratic candidates at the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial levels. He served as the senior adviser to the 2000 Gore presidential campaign and the 2004 Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign, in addition to working on the campaign of Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel.

Shrum’s political memoir, No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, in which he vividly recounts the candid personalities that helped shape the outcome of the tightest and most crucial elections of our generation, was published in June 2007. Shrum also is a regular online columnist for Newsweek’s The Daily Beast and has been featured in New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among others.

Currently Shrum is a Senior Fellow at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he teaches a class on Domestic Policy Formation & Analysis and an undergraduate seminar discussing presidential debates and speeches since the 1960s. Shrum is married to Marylouise Oates, a writer and former columnist for The Los Angeles
Times, who also works at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service as Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Administration.

Keep up to date with Shrum on his Twitter, as well as his weekly articles in The Daily Beast – and click here for a really adorable pic of Shrum n’ Oates. They will be in residence at NYU Florence for a couple months this semester.

So everyone should DEFINITELY attend the upcoming LPD Journalism Workshop with Marylousie Oates on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Office of Villa La Pietra. AND the LPD event “U.S. Elections 1960-2012: Looking back” Dialogues with Professor Robert Shrum : February 27th, March 6th and 20th in Villa Sassetti at 6:00pm

Because this power couple is the new Angelina and Brad of Florence…


Meeting Jim Messina

By Chloe Coffman, NYU Florence student

Last night NYU Florence students and Florentines alike gathered in Villa Sassetti to hear Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, give what would be an insightful look into the campaign he ran and the man behind it. Jim comes from Montana where he began his political career running campaigns, but in 2009 his life was changed forever when he received a phone call from Barack Obama who asked him, “Hey Messina, do you want to change the world?” Messina accepted the job offer after asking his mom, who told him, “If you don’t take this job, you’re out of the will.”

He served as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for 2 years until Obama took him out of the office and handed him the reigns of his 2012 re-election campaign. As Messina spoke about the re-election, and the difficulties it experienced, the strongest theme that came through was his obvious respect for the young people who made the campaign what it was. It was as if he was thanking each and every Obama supporter in the room personally, and humbly admitting that without each of them, Obama would not have another term ahead of him. He spoke of the unbelievable dedication of the volunteers and students who knocked on doors and spoke passionately about Obama to their friends and family, which Messina credits with being the number one factor in the election. However, he spoke of no one with more respect than President Obama himself– of his lack of interest in the political game, and his unwavering intent to always do the right thing.

In the end, that is why Obama won, not because he spent enough money or said the ‘right’ thing, but because “Obama had the right vision for the future.” After his talk he gathered in Sala Bolognese in Villa Sassetti to speak with only NYU Florence students, a truly extraordinary opportunity.

As a friend of Ellyn Toscano, the students were really the reason he had agreed to take time from his post-campaign Italian vacation to come to NYU Florence and speak, and so appropriately, he ended his talk with advice to the students who had come. He told them, “If you are passionate about something, make that your career.” Fitting words for students ending their “break” from reality and heading back to America next week, perhaps now with a better idea of what those passions are, and what exactly they want to do when they grow up.

Student coverage of the US Politics: Election Experts Analyze the Results conference

New York University Florence students Ann Schmidt, Emmanuelle Libelule Wiley, Scott Mullen, Victoria Murray, Carmen Germaine and Amanda Esteves covered the US Politics: Elections Experts Analyze the Results conference on November 16-17. Read their report from inside the conference and profile pieces on the participants. For more information on the conference click here.


A Lecture on the Electoral College by Professor Joshua Tucker

By Alexandru V. Lazar, NYU Florence student

Since the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Electoral College has been on the minds on many Americans:  how it works and why it simply works. The United States of America is the only country in the world to nominate such a “special group” to vote in its elections as Professor Joshua Tucker of New York University put it. Professor, author, and blogger, Tucker stated that,” One of the most powerful nations, if not the most powerful nation, in the world, elects their president through a group of five hundred thirty-seven individuals who represent the entire United States of America!” Why? Well, there is no specific reason why the Electoral College was created but here are a few possible reasons as to why it may have been created and how it works.

The Constitutional Convention in 1787 considered three methods of selecting a president: allow Congress to select, allow the governors of each individual state to select, or allow a direct popular vote to select the president. Each one of these methods were rejected and, as a result, a so called “Committee of Eleven” proposed an indirect election through a College of Electors. Each state has a certain number of electors dependent on the number of Senators and Representatives in Congress. Larger states with larger populations obviously have more electors and small states have fewer electors. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December, the electors of the college meet in their separate state capitals to select the president. The funny side of this is that the electors are unable to communicate between states, yet they are still expected to rightfully choose the most capable candidate to become President of the United States.

The compromise of the Electoral College has developed a few pit falls since 1787 that have affected the election process; consequences include: “faithless electors,” a tie (in which the House chooses the president by state delegation and the Senate chooses the vice president…Romney-Biden 2012…seriously?), and spending extremely large amounts of money on advertising in “swing states.”

To some it may seem that the Electoral College makes each state unequal, as well as each citizen. There have been many alternatives proposals and potential reforms including: the proportional plan, the district plan, and selection by statutory and not constitutional authority. Yet the most popular and effective plan is put forward by the National Popular Vote Initiative, which guarantees the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes. Basically, the electoral votes must all go towards the candidate who wins the popular vote meaning each person’s vote counts! Finally! Democracy! The bill will only be in effect when a majority of states of the Electoral College (270 of 538). So now go… and vote for your presidential candidate. The ballots are open, and the autumn air is crisp; but remember the electoral college DOES have the final say!