Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Political Science

First Advisor

Jeffrey L. Bernstein


Due to the historic unusualness of the recent 2016 presidential election, many are unsure of what to think of the political climate in the United States. Many of the well respected polling organizations were incorrect about the outcome of the election, and this has led many to question what the issues people find most relevant when voting are. One of the reasons they were so off is because many experts didn't believe someone could act the way Donald Trump acted, and still win. Of course, they were wrong and he is not the current President. In hopes of answering why his behavior didn't cost him the election, the purpose of this study is to determine the factors that are most important to people when voting for elected officials. The factors that I focused specifically were social issues, economic issues, and international issues. I created the survey in the hope that I would be able to determine which issues are most important to each respondent. It will also help to see whether people tend to agree with one political party on all of these issues, or perhaps people support issues from opposing parties and choose the party that shares their opinion on their most important issue. This study should help to answer which of these factors is most important in driving people to vote for candidates, and whether these important factors are different for people of differing wealth, age, education, sex, and political identity. The hope is that this can provide a better understanding in the future to what issues are important to these various groups and which issues are most likely to encourage voting. This would mean fewer surprises in predictive polling data for future elections.