Harry Potter and the Deathly Donald?
No, it’s a not the newest book from the hugely popular series of children’s books, but the title of a new academic paper from an Ivy League professor who suggests that presidential candidate Donald Trump has more in common with Lord Voldemort than Abraham Lincoln.
“Similarities between Donald Trump and Harry Potter’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort, have not gone without notice during the 2016 campaign," wrote University of Pennsylvania Political Science Professor Diana Mutz, in her paper for the American Political Science Association’s journal PS: Political Science & Politics. “Such comparisons could amount to little more than poking fun at a political opponent.
“Can Harry Potter defeat Donald Trump? Is his orange wig actually a horcrux that, if captured, could weaken the strength of his electoral base?"
- from the study entitled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Donald"
“More recently, however, even Trump supporters seem to be buying into the analogy, purchasing Trump posters featuring their candidate in front of an American flag as backdrop, with a quote from the Dark Lord himself: ‘There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.’”
Mutz, uses the unusual comparison to make the main point of her paper—that past empirical studies suggest that works of fiction influence the political beliefs of readers, and that Harry Potter books and movies have shaped attitudes in the 2016 election.
“Because Trump’s political views are widely viewed as opposed to the values espoused in the Harry Potter series, exposure to the Potter series may play an influential role in influencing how Americans respond to Donald Trump,” Mutz wrote.
Absent from the study is how Harry Potter fandom might affect opinions of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Mutz polled a sample of about 1,200 Americans and only asked them about their consumption of Harry Potter-related media and their attitudes toward various political issues and Trump.
National and international media praised the paper as a work of academic wizardry.
“Could Harry Potter fans be the key to snatching victory away from Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in November?” asked a July 28 Newsweek article about the study.
The UK newspaper The Independent exclaimed “Harry Potter could help stop Donald Trump becoming US president” in a recent edition.
Technology blog Gizmodo asked in July, “Can Harry Potter Affect This Presidential Election?”
Mutz, who did not respond to requests for comment, seems to think so.
“Can Harry Potter defeat Donald Trump? Is his orange wig actually a horcrux that, if captured, could weaken the strength of his electoral base?" she wrote in the conclusion of the paper. “Just as He-Who-Must-Not-Be- Named gains power from having others refer to him, is Trump’s appeal likewise a function of nonstop media fascination and repetition? These questions remain to be answered.
“Perhaps most importantly, these findings raise the hope that Harry Potter can stop the Deathly Donald and make America great again in the eyes of the world, just as Harry did by ridding the wizard world of Voldemort.”