Weekly Poll: Are the SUSU elections just a popularity contest?

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Many people have talked about how the elections are just a popularity contest, and individual policies aren’t actually that important. We’d like to get your opinion to see what you think about this:

If you’ve got any comments, please leave them below:

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Discussion13 Comments

  1. avatar

    I would say popularity determines where the candidates *start* – just as politicians in the ‘big world’ have their ‘base’ voters, so do student politicians. In this small a community (thousands rather than millions), that means their friends.

    Even being generous and assuming the average student candidate has 500 unique Facebook friends within the electorate (not shared with other candidates), that still totals 2,500 votes ‘sealed’ for a five-horse race – many of which could be transferred in later rounds – and many fewer for smaller fields. Turnout regularly exceeds 4,000 and last year approached 7,000. That’s a lot of uncommitted voters, and I’d like to think these vote on policy.

    Whether they do or not is another matter – Tanfield 2008 hinted they don’t (although she proved to be much better in office than on the campaign trail), but the attention given throughout the week is generally reflective of an electorate that cares.

    In short – it’s not just a popularity contest, but there’s more of an element of that than there should be.

    Chris Houghton
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    I’d say I agree with you there. It can often seem like it is a popularity contest, especially with the two landslide president victories we’ve had for the past couple of years. However if you speak to either Steve or Billy, they’ve both got tons of experience, have wanted the job since freshers, and ALSO have a large friend base.

  2. avatar

    I think last night’s VP Media & Comms result proved that it is a popularity contest. The 4 losing candidates were all more experienced with stronger manifestos than the winner… who happens to be an attractive female.

    Dean Winchester
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    If anything, last nights VP Media and Comms result proved that it was not a popularity contest! The candidate who won had only ten people campaigning for her and knew very few people at the University before standing, and had more media experience than most of the candidates. Please stop being so sexist and making such uninformed comments!

    Mark Scott
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    Other candidates had been involved with union council, Surge, Susu TV, JCRs, schools and more, all having been very involved with the union from the start. Writing for the Wessex Scene is hardly more experience. Most voters probably didn’t read manifestos and even members of the winner’s campaign team were using “only female” “best looking” tactics. It’s great for the winner but devastating for the candidates who deserved a better run. Time will tell.

    Tristan Carlyle
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    Experience may be an important factor to consider when voting for a candidate, it only makes up part of a person’s character and campaign. Having held a multitude of positions on various other committees is not the main requirement for the job.

    Other candidates may have had more relevant experience, but to dismiss Charlotte’s manifesto as simply weaker than the others is completely unjustified, and frankly sounds a bit like you can’t see the trees for the woods…

    Chris Houghton
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    Nice pun Tristan. I agree here – Charlotte is far from inexperienced – being an editor on the Wessex Scene is a lot of work, and outlined her policies by far the best at Hustings in my opinion. She’s also the only one of the candidates involved in the Wessex Scene, which has its bonuses when it comes to getting votes.

    I think popularity makes up part of the elections, but there are so many other factors to account for such as marketing methods, campaign policies, the campaign team etc.

    Meg Dodd
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    I don’t agree that anyone is being sexist here – society gave up being sexist a long time ago really – i do agree that having editorial experience in the wessex scene is VERY IMPORTANT and really made her stand out from the other candidates, however i do feel that they had a much more varied amount of media experience – susu radio, susu tv, editing photographs and videos and the susu website.

    the comment about her only having 10 members to her candidate team is silly because i was on Dave Taylor’s campaign team and there was only 10 of us too. It doesn’t matter how many people you have on your team but it does matter how you campaign.

    Chris Houghton
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    The Media and Comms results were interesting. Charlotte had a very small campaign team and she actually has been commuting to Southampton every day – obviously there’s a limit to how many people you can meet in that situation.

  3. avatar

    It’s pretty obvious why charlotte won to be honest but what do you expect from a student election eh. I doubt the uncommitted voters voted on policies! If they did the results would have been very different for most of the positions. The coverage was brilliant and night was very well planned so well done to all responsible.

  4. avatar

    The question should be are the SUSU elections just a beauty pageant. The fact that someone can be elected VP Media and Comms with no experience in two thirds of the media departments (SURGE and SUSU TV) and little in communications (not even a facebook account before campaigning) shows that people’s votes are superficial. Do we really want 7000 voters when most clearly are either not involved or don’t care about some of the positions they are voting for?

    Danielle Warman
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    Spot on.

    I think the sexist remark was the only uninformed comment here. I highly doubt people remembered her name as a writer of the Wessex Scene and voted for her based on that. The fact that she wasn’t very well known, didn’t have a facebook account or a big campaign team doesn’t prove that she had the best campaign and met a lot of people – it proves she was seen around. The amount of times I heard “I’m voting for her because she’s hot” was ridiculous, even one of her team shouted it when she won and the rest laughed.

    Yes, she has experience but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to how much the others have. I know that Tom, Dave and Max have all done so much for the union that they put their degrees on the line. I hope their talents are recognised elsewhere as they all deserve it.

    At the end of the day the 3 best candidates lost and there’s nothing more they could’ve done. A pretty girl will always win.

  5. avatar

    I think it can be a popularity contest, but that some great candidates get in because they force themselves out there. People get annoyed with campaigning, but if you know you are the best candidate, perhaps you have to campaign. If you think about how many people vote – then there’s no way it’s a popularity contest, people simply can’t know that many people. It’s about campaigning. And really I think it’s about being the best for the job. Candidates who won this year didn’t necessarily have the biggest campaigns or campaign teams and that’s great, cause it means they have the best policies, or made an effort to speak to everyone – and didn’t just win simply because they are popular.
    And even if Charlotte won because she’s hot, does it matter as long as she does a good job? Everyone criticised Tanners but she did a good job…

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