President Mark D. Gearan and a group of political science professors will discuss the results of the midterm elections, including who won and why, during a special post-election event at the Finger Lakes Lounge in downtown Geneva. The panel, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10, is part of a series of events sponsored by the HWS Political Science Department that is focusing on who ran for office and the issues at stake during this election cycle. Visiting Instructor of Political Science Ben Farrer will join the Monday night discussion.
Gearan, along with Assistant Professor of Political Science Joe Mink, Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of Faculty DeWayne Lucas, and Professor of Political Iva Deutchman led a discussion on Oct. 29, also at Finger Lakes Lounge, which focused on both national and local elections. The discussion was broadcast live on WEOS 89.5 FM and 90.3 FM and covered many topics, including the effect of the gubernatorial races on the 2016 presidential campaign, the importance of red state toss ups in the midterm elections such as in Georgia and Kansas, as well as the importance of the Democratic ground game on Election Day.
In considering the midterm election, Lucas noted, “Regardless of the results of Tuesday night, the next two years are going to be pretty tough for Obama.” He explained, “Whether his party maintains control of the Senate or not, it’s going to be a much narrower control and it’s also going to leave him fairly fractured. I think we’re going to see a fairly lame-duck period for Obama and for the Democratic Party. We’re going to see very little movement in terms of policy.”
Gearan said the gubernatorial races currently taking place are critical for 2016 politics. He explained how the governors of key states will have an impact on possible Republican Presidential Candidates, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
More than any one race, however, Gearan stressed, “Elections matter very much. Even when candidates are far ahead in the polls or uncontested it’s an engaged citizenry that makes the country, and our ability to reflect or complain (or not) about our government can be so shaped by our engagement to vote.”
Mink echoed Gearan’s focus on what midterm elections will mean for 2016, noting that’s what the media will focus on come Wednesday morning, “And that’s both interesting and problematic,” he said.
What will particularly interest him is the Democratic ground game. Mink noted Republicans associate the Democrats’ ground game specifically with President Obama’s ability to rally people to vote in 2008 and 2012. If Democrats can take two or three of the close midterm elections, however, he thinks “It might indicate that kind of ground game has become institutional; it is being used by more and more Democratic candidates successfully and so it’s not just a phenomena associated with Obama’s charisma or the fact that he was a rock star.”
Taking a different perspective on the election, Deutchman noted what has really struck her is the advertising. “I have seen hardly any ads by either party that have identified themselves as either Republican or Democrat,” she said, adding this supported her colleagues’ earlier statements that “The parties are just held in very low regard. It doesn’t matter; identifying yourself as a member of a party doesn’t help you.”
Panelists then answered audience questions on such topics as what Speaker of the House John Boehner’s support of an openly gay Republican signifies for the Republican Party; issues facing former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush in making the decision whether or not to run in the next Presidential election; and campaign finance reform.
Senior Eliot Kime ’15 enjoyed the event. “The talk was very informative and interesting. It was great to get to hear what President Gearan and the professors had to say.”
Gearan served in the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff, and in election years, co-teaches a course on campaigns and elections with Deutchman. Deutchman brings expertise in modern conservative politics in the U.S., while Lucas’s years of study and teaching have centered around Congress, the U.S. political parties and voting. Mink will offer his background in the history of elections, while Farrer will bring to bear his own background in political organizations and environmental politics.
On Election Night, the Political Science Department, HWS Votes and the Colleges Republicans and Democrats hosted a party in the Vandervort Room in Scandling Campus Center.