Pacific Faculty Preview the 2008 Presidential Election
On October 22, 2008 current and former Pacific faculty members presented a session of predictions and analysis about the upcoming presidential elections.
Political Science Professor Jeff Becker introduced the panel, which was part of Pacific’s Social Science Research Colloquium.
Professor David Frederickson from Pacific’s Communications Department led off. Professor Frederickson is a veteran of many presidential campaigns stretching back to Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign. Frederickson drew on his experience to argue that as campaigns draw to an end, the October Death March as he called it, three key elements strongly affect the outcome of an election: organization, money, and timing. All three elements seem to be lined up in Barack Obama’s direction. Not only did Professor Frederickson see the Obama campaign as using their money advantage very effectively, he also thought that Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Senator Obama is “a likely game changer.”
Pacific Political Scientist Keith Smith followed by pointing to data that indicate that the outcome of the 2008 election should be closer to historical norms than the very close 2000 and 2004 races. Smith reviewed the most prominent political science models of the presidential election vote. Most models are based on the performance of the economy and the incumbent president’s job approval ratings. With an underperforming economy and a historically unpopular Republican president, “it’s a tough year to be a Republican.” Professor Smith predicted that based on a likely Obama popular vote victory in the predicted range, Senator Obama should win at least 286 and as many as 364 electoral votes.
Former Pacific Political Scientist Nate Monroe returned from Merced to report on predictions that he had made during a spring 2008 forum. Monroe gave himself mixed grades for his predictions. Professor Monroe argued that Senator McCain’s choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin was a “terrible strategic choice,” which has made it harder for the Arizona Senator to attract votes from the middle, but that Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden had been quite good at helping Senator Obama expand his electoral appeal.