Battling Election Fatigue? Balance It Out with Other Important Things in Life, Baylor Expert SaysJanuary 28, 20193 min read
It’s happening. Again. Another U.S. presidential campaign.
The contentious 2018 midterm elections are barely in the mud-encrusted rear-view mirror, and the next general election is nearly two years away, but telltale campaigning has already begun as presidential hopefuls emerge to take on each other and Donald Trump, who consistently talks and tweets about Election Day 2020.
Does this ubiquitous campaigning make you weary?
If so, you’re not alone, said expert Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., associate professor of political science in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences.
“Election fatigue is real in the United States,” said Flavin, who researches the impact of politics and policies on citizens’ quality of life. “The U.S. holds more elections than just about any other country in the world: primary elections, school board elections, city council elections and more. So, it’s not unreasonable for someone to say, ‘I’m tired of voting because it seems like I’m voting all the time.’”
But it’s not just the number of elections that takes a toll. The presidential election cycles are longer now than in years past. Much of that is due to the race for resources, Flavin said.
Over the past few weeks, potential Democratic candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar have been making moves – either announcing candidacies or testing the political waters.
“Right now, we’re at the start of the ‘invisible primary’ for Democratic candidates whereby they compete for staff, endorsements from other politicians and party leaders, name recognition and fundraising sources,” Flavin said.
“For relatively unknown candidates, in particular, it is important to get into the race early to give yourself a head start in trying to compete for those scarce resources. In contrast, a more well-known candidate like Joe Biden can afford to wait for a while before starting his campaign – if he does decide to run.”
Flavin said it’s important for citizens to know what’s happening on the national political scene, but he advises people to take a break when it becomes overwhelming.
“Being an informed citizen is good and to be admired, but I don’t think it’s healthy to obsess over every single day-to-day political development – especially in the era of 24/7 news,” he said. “Balance it out with other important things in life.”
And if you’re in a position (a political science professor, for example) that doesn’t often afford the time to break away, Flavin advises taking the time to approach politics as an observer.
“Just like anyone else, political science professors would go crazy if they focused on politics 24/7. So, balance is important. In addition, it is healthier, I think, to approach campaigns and elections as an observer who is interested in better understanding why the candidates take the positions they do, why voters support this candidate over that candidate, etc.”
Flavin also said that focusing too much on the national landscape pulls people away from critical state and local issues.
“There are important decisions being made at the state and local levels that we need to be aware of,” he said.
Flavin’s newest research shows that Americans are happier in states where governments spend more on public goods, such as libraries, parks, highways, natural resources and police protection.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.
Patrick Flavin, Ph.D. Professor, Political Science
Dr. Flavin focuses on political inequality, the impact of politics and public policies on citizens’ quality of life, and state politics.