Who will win the Senate race?

Eli Ridder | Analysis

The Avro Post is dedicated to impartial but in-depth coverage of elections this year and beyond, so let’s break down a prediction on who will win the Senate race based purely on the factors we know make a winner in student elections.

One of the largest indicators of a winning candidate is social media impact. We’re mostly talking Instagram, maybe Facebook, and people sharing candidates in their stories.

If other candidates share a candidate’s campaign posters on their story, that is an indicator they have support within the inner circles of student politics — which has appeared to signal a winning campaign. We don’t have data — yet — on how many times a candidate has been endorsed by another candidate and won, but it has to be high if the last two years say anything.

Then again, we have seen underdog situations, such as the presidential race last year between Monica Khosla — a relative newcomer to student politics — and Alisa Lim, the-then IGNITE vice president of Lakeshore Campus and largely considered a traditional favourite to win.

But back to the Senate — who has been active on social media? Genevieve Samlal, Danya Elsayed and Maheen Nazim have been the top contenders in terms of the Instagram game. Samlal is the only candidate to make a dedicated campaign account, which has amassed 70 followers.

Elsayed and Nazim have only posted about their campaigns to their story — which may be the best way anyways as some people view stories more than profile posts.

Justin Mihaly and Jessica Lecques have also kept their campaigns to their stories, but have not kept it up everyday — thus, anyone curious about their campaigns may not necessarily find anything on their profiles.

As for Nora Elgharbawy, we don’t have access to her social media at this point so it’s unclear what she’s doing for her campaign there — which means most people don’t as she has a private profile. Hooria Katal is an unknown and we can’t find anything social media-wise, which does not allow for much of an Internet presence when one is a political candidate in 2019.

Of course all of these candidates have posters up near the elevators in Guelph-Humber — however, the effectiveness of the crowded papers taped to every inch of space has been questioned by nearly every candidate.

A third way to get the word out beyond social media and physical posters is through word-of-mouth and name recognition.

Maheen Nazim is the clear winner in this category as she was elected vice president last year has had a large reach within the community in her IGNITE role.

Who comes second? Arguably Genevieve Samlal, as an incumbent senator, should be there at the top with Nazim in terms of name recognition.

Danya Elsayed is an active member of the Guelph-Humber community and has been engaged with on-campus activism in the past. She’s had her name in GH360 for further confirming that the university is overcrowded and is an IGNITE staff writer.

Jessica Lecques has put out a bold presence with an in-depth platform — which could give her a strong name recognition as a newcomer.

Nora Elgharbawy and Justin Mihaly are present on social media but do not appear to have the same boost as the name recognition frontrunners. We were told after this was published that Elgharbawy’s campaign posters have been shared multiple times on students’ stories digitally. Her reach may be further than originally known.

Hooria Katal could’ve used her by-election Senate run to her advantage, but she was just as much as an unknown then as she is now.

There is also the fourth way to build a candidate up — media attention. That’s an easy one because the only student press covering the Guelph-Humber Senate election is The Avro Post.

So how does The Post cover the candidates? It’s fairly straightforward. If a candidate talks to us first, or we establish contact before they publicly announce, then we have an exclusive story on their candidacy, such as in the case of Danya Elsayed.

We also are actively looking for candidate campaign accounts, and, if we find one we share it instantly and put up a story announcing their candidacy.

After initial stories on candidates like this one on Jessica Lecques, we do a follow up with interview questions — the same for each candidate to start — and publish something like this.

That’s not necessarily the same system we use for IGNITE, but it works for the Senate which has a very short time period between candidacy announcements and voting.

So, in terms of media attention in The Avro Post, Jessica Lecques has given the most amount of detail and thus has the most published words on her campaign. However, Maheen Nazim has several stories on her IGNITE vice presidency dating back to last year that take the win with the most words published about her.

But Nazim’s coverage has not always been favourable in terms of public perception. Articles on her have included actions and statements that were both supported by students and criticized by students.

It could also be argued that the IGNITE website counts as media attention, especially with its social media presence of over 8,000 followers. There, all mention of Nazim has been at least shared in a positive light, which boosts her name recognition and exposure.

Hooria Katal has been mentioned in the past as a Senate candidate during the by-election — but again — was an unknown.

Of course, platforms also matter in an election, but, as it usually is with student politics, many are very similar with a few standout platform items. The issues at play in this election and the platforms candidates have can be read here.

So who will win?

Again, to stay away from bias, we have compiled the four factors — apparent social media influence, poster presence, prior name recognition and media attention — to analyze a probable outcome. This is not an endorsement in any way.

Maheen Nazim, on most counts, is the front runner overall and has the experience to campaign hard for a win.

Genevieve Samlal is an incumbent, though she was not technically elected by students as there were only three candidates for four seats last year. She follows Nazim in these categories overall.

Danya Elsayed is close behind as she has the support of many in the Guelph-Humber community which is evident in those that endorse her on social media.

Jessica Lecques has come forward with bold statements and has gone in-depth with her platform, and appears to stand out from the lesser known newcomer candidates.

Nora Elgharbawy, Justin Mihaly and especially Hooria Katal will likely have to step it up in the four factors to bump up their presence and snag a seat, as shown by how winning candidates in the past have found votes.

One never knows how an election will turn out in the end, however, and it is always possible for any of the seven Senate candidates to take one of the four seats.

All seven have platform items they want to take to the Guelph Senate on behalf of Guelph-Humber, and these issues could potentially resonate past social media influence and posters and give a candidate the ballots to win.

Stay tuned to The Avro Post for the latest on these candidates and for the final results. Voting continues until Friday via a link sent to students on GryphMail.

Image of ballot from Pexels

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