UMass Boston Political Experts: Next Election Starts Today
November 07, 2012
Office of Communications
Media Experts Weigh in on Significance of Presidential Election, Women, Electoral College
Election 2012 may be mostly in the books, but that doesn’t mean that the groundwork isn’t being laid for the next election.
A trio of UMass Boston political experts, Department Chair of Political Science Paul Watanabe and Associate Professors of Political Science Erin O’Brien and Maurice Cunningham, took part in a discussion with about 40 students, faculty, and staff Wednesday afternoon looking at the national and state election outcomes, and what the trends we saw Tuesday mean for future election cycles.
“Symbolically, it’s a really big deal that President Barack Obama won a second term. It’s a really big deal,” O’Brien said. “Some of the animus toward him and toward his legislative victories and failures comes from race. And the fact he was able to win a second term is a big deal with a coalition similar to 2008. That that held I don’t think should be overlooked.”
Watanabe pointed out that we have the same president and the same parties in power in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate as we did before the election. He finds something else significant in Tuesday’s results: that more women will be in the Senate than ever before and that Massachusetts elected its first female Senator, Elizabeth Warren.
O’Brien noted that Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, both damaged by remarks around rape, lost their races, while those states went to Governor Mitt Romney, meaning voters “crossed over.”
Watanabe said Romney would have fared better had he continued to stay on the “surfboard, riding the wave of the economy.”
“He made some attempts to climb back on by focusing once again on the economy, but I think that was his only path to victory,” Watanabe said.
To a student who asked if Romney selecting Paul Ryan as a running mate was a mistake, Watanabe said, “I think Paul Ryan was a big bust.” Still he said, “The Democrats won the election. The Republicans did not lose it.”
Both O’Brien and Cunningham mentioned the passages of same sex marriage laws in Maine and Maryland. Despite that, Cunningham said he thinks the Tea Party is alive and well.
“No matter what happened yesterday, the Tea Party was either going to have the Vice President or the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for 2016, so they’re not going away,” Cunningham said.
O’Brien added that she doesn’t think the Electoral College is going anywhere either, even though the popular vote was much closer than the Electoral College numbers suggest.
“Where the active campaigning went on, President Obama carried all but North Carolina. It suggests if every state was on medium, instead of 11 states on uber-high, it does suggest that where Obama campaigned, Obama won,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien also talked about the tightness in the Senate race in Massachusetts, noting that we could see Senator Scott Brown on a ballot again sooner rather than later if Senator John Kerry is named to the Secretary of State position and a special election is held to replace him.
“Without [President] Obama [on the ballot], Elizabeth Warren would not be in the Senate today,” she said.
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