Research Mentor(s): Michael Heaney, Research Fellow
Research Mentor School/College/Department: University of Glasgow,
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 4 (2pm-2:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 5
“Party in the Streets: Grassroots Protests during (and Beyond?) the Presidency of Donald Trump” is a political science based research project. The work done for this project will help to contribute to Dr. Michael Heaney’s next book, America under Democracy. This project examines the connections between protests and social change, with a specific interest in the areas of Women’s March, protests and rallies under and after the Trump presidency, and protests surrounding COVID-19. This project focuses on studying different protests and movements to see how they relate to political parties and the approval of different presidencies. Overall, this project seeks to answer the questions: will different parties adopt different movements? How has this tactic of taking issues to the streets expanded under recent leadership? The research for this project was mainly conducted through surveying anonymous participants at different protests across the country. After these surveys were randomly distributed during the protests, they were collected to be coded. These surveys allow trends to be shown between political alignment, presidential approval, and the reason for attending the different protests. From this, conclusions can be drawn as to why participants are motivated to protest and how this will continue moving forward into other presidencies. The surveys show that protests significantly increased under Trump’s presidency, across the spectrum, and most prominently after the George Floyd murder. They also shed light on individuals’ reasons for attendance at events, demonstrating a very strong dichotomy surrounding political affiliation. These two glaring sides represent a deep chasm in not only upper-level politics but also on an individual level. The study thus far brings to light interesting connections between protest, social justice, and American democracy leading us to better understand the interactions between individuals and institutions. There have also been side projects conducted showing search results for different news and social media platforms revolving around phrases related to protesting. These media counts have already produced results, showing that “˜Black Lives Matter’ and “˜George Floyd’ were two of the most searched phrases in the past 100 years in this country. The surveys are still being coded; however, the hypothesis is these will show a growing population of participants in grassroots protests as these media counts also help to show the expanding attention to protests. As these surveys are only a small part of the entire project for America under Democracy, these results are important in demonstrating the changing political climate of our country and the power in the voice of the people despite the leadership in the presidential office.