Christopher Newport University professor writes book on 2016 presidential election

Daily Press

Christopher Newport University professor Rachel Bitecofer breaks down the most recent presidential election in her upcoming book, “The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election.”

Her research and analysis of campaign strategies explains how and why Donald Trump won the election, despite a “rough campaign,” Bitecofer said. The election outcome is not the product of one or two occurrences, the professor explains in her book.

“Basically, you can’t understand the 2016 presidential election in a vacuum,” she said, “because it really is a part of a longer story that has its roots back in the 1950s and ’60s when modern America began to emerge. We had the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, then immigration started to come forward, and European counter-culture war issues emerged.”

Bitecofer teaches classes on political behavior, campaigns, political analysis and more at CNU. She is assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at the university, and regularly contributes to CBC radio. Her research has been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and on NPR.

She became interested in writing the election-focused book after noticing a gap in current election literature, she said. So when the 2016 election came up, she meticulously noted and researched events as they happened.

“I knew I wanted to write a book about the 2016 election that focused on the strategic calculations that campaigns make,” Bitecofer said. “Usually, books on campaigns focus on the best practices of campaigns or are campaign tell-alls.”

Bitecofer explores the strategies employed by both parties, which ultimately led to Trump’s win. She also addresses the occurrence of events throughout the election that left many people dumbfounded.

“Between the primaries and the presidential election, the word ‘unprecedented,’ was used constantly,” Bitecofer said of the related media coverage. “In relation to Donald Trump, to the size of the Republican fields with 17 candidates, and (in relation to) Donald Trump with a probable victory,” Bitecofer said. “… Mitt Romney’s speech where he implored his fellow republicans to support anybody but Donald Trump — this is the kind of stuff you would never see in an election.”

Another uncommon occurrence during the election was Trump’s lack of endorsements, Bitecofer said. Only three newspapers endorsed Trump.

Bitecofer also was surprised by the ratio of coverage Trump had compared with other Republican candidates. According to Bitecofer’s research, Trump had multiple days where he had 60 percent or more of all candidate coverage in the news media.

The author said she feels good about the upcoming book and is working on a second that analyzes whether or not voters in the modern era are civically engaged, she said.

“The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election” is available now on Amazon and Springer.com for pre-order. It will be released as an e-book Oct. 5 and in hardback Nov. 5, Bitecofer said.

Smith can be reached by phone at 757-510-1663 or on Twitter @hillarysmith21.

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