The Nichols History and Political Science Departments went all out this past month to keep students engaged in the political process and the presidential election.
An array of special events and high-powered speakers—aimed at raising election-year issues, making students more informed about the candidates, and encouraging them to get out and vote—culminated in a post-election analysis of President Barack Obama’s victory and a student and faculty poll, which picked the winner.
The quadrennial presidential poll was conducted online over the weekend preceding the November 6th election by Professors Paul Lambert and Bradley Lovoi, who note that the election outcome is still a subject of discussion in their classes.
In the formal follow-up to the election, held in Davis Hall on November 8th, faculty and students heard from Political Science Professor and political blogger Maurice Cunningham, from the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
Cunningham noted in his post-mortem that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had done everything he needed to garner the GOP nomination, but ended up paying a price. “Governor Romney was rather unloved even in his own party, but he kept up his contacts from his 2008 presidential run,” Cunningham observed. “However, he had to veer farther to the right than he would have liked to.”
While Romney took center stage and garnered plenty of positive attention in his debates with President Barack Obama—especially the first one in early October—Cunningham noted that Romney’s performance did not pave the way to the presidency. “Are debates game changers? They’re not,” he said, estimating the historical impact at about one percent in the polls.
Conversely, Cunningham added, the pictures of Obama touring the storm-ravaged East Coast just before the election with prominent conservative New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, may have been worth a thousand words spoken during any televised debate.
Cunningham also addressed the nationally prominent race for the U.S. Senate between Democrat nominee Elizabeth Warren and GOP incumbent Scott Brown. “Warren was an unlikely winner. She was a relative unknown running against the most popular politician in the state,“ he observed.
“But in the last few months of the campaign she was able to hang the positions of the national Republican party around Scott Brown’s neck, and that hurt him badly.“
In the Nichols presidential poll of Nichols faculty and students, held online from November 2nd through 5th, Obama outdistanced Romney for the presidency by a 51% to 33% margin, with 13% of the respondents indicating that they had not decided or did not intend to vote.
When it came to the U.S. Senate contest between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, the former triumphed 64% to 30%, with 6% undecided.
The events held in October, also in Davis Hall, featured former White House speech writer and Presidential Scholar Michael Waldman, who shared his insights on presidential races past and present, and Nichols graduate Neil Levesque, the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
Levesque also worked for 12 years with former New Hampshire Congressman Charles Bass, for whom he organized legislative agendas and public policy initiatives.