Students, professors discuss local, presidential politics
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
The Tower Center for Political Studies hosted a discussion Monday evening between political science professor Dennis Simon and Jeffrey Engel, a history professor. Both men passionately discussed the many issues at hand in the Tuesday election and described the nation’s current political climate as typical.
“This year will largely be a status quo election,” Simon said. “Politically the next few years will seem very similar to the last few.”
Engel replied, “That’s really depressing.”
SMU junior Tyler Anderson, director of the Tower Center Student Forum, said the purpose of the event was to “bring students together to discuss the election in an open and friendly manner to enhance political discourse.”
In beginning the discussion, Engel saw an interesting parallel between the 2012 presidential election and the 1888 election.
“The central issue of the  campaign was that there wasn’t one,” he said, “The election hinged entirely on voter turnout.”
Simon agreed saying that if the turnout model in the northern industrial cities of Ohio such as Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, and Canton is similar to the 2008 levels, President Barack Obama is in a good position to win statewide. He expects Romney to do well in the southern area of the state, but doesn’t think that alone would be enough for Romney to win statewide.
The race for control of the Senate has appeared to slip out of reach for Republicans. Both professors agreed the House of Representatives is going to stay Republican, and the Senate is likely to stay under the Democrats. Simon said he expected that the political discourse Americans have been exposed to over the last several years will largely remain the same with the government staying divided.
He believes regardless of who wins the presidential race, divided government will remain.
William Tsutsui, Dedman College dean, started the questions by asking if an electoral landslide similar to Reagan’s 49-state victory in 1984 would ever happen again. Republican Ronald Reagan brought the country back from economic collapse and his opponent, Democrat Walter Mondale ran only on raising taxes. Simon replied if conditions repeat themselves, a landslide election could definitely happen again.
Junior Michael Dearborn asked why local races don’t get more coverage in the media. Engel admitted that even he didn’t know the names of his local representatives, and argued that the general lack of public interest in local races is driven by a lack of interest by the media.
Simon sees an electoral college “misfire” happening if Romney wins the popular vote, but not the election. He doesn’t think party outrage will be the same as in 2000 when George W. Bush ran against Al Gore. Since the Electoral College currently gives small Republican states outsized power, Simon said Republicans aren’t likely to rebel.