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Nov. 09, 2012
CONTACT: K. E. Schwab

SRU employees offer election overview

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The next Presidential Election is just four years away, and the pundits and political planners for both parties might do well to consult with Slippery Rock University faculty and staff for ideas how to win.

In interviews across campus conducted Wednesday, after Tuesday's vote results had been solidified, SRU faculty and staff offered explanations for the outcome and ideas for reaching political interplay accord.

Here are snippets of their take on the presidential vote:

John Golden, an instructor in SRU's School of Business, said the election went just as he expected. "Democrats usually do a good job of getting the vote out in presidential election years and the Obama campaign has been working this for two years."

However, Golden said he is not sure if there will be peace between the president and Congress. "On that issue I am not sure. But if they don't, we are in big trouble. The election is over, and it's time to get down to the business of government - deficit reduction, energy policy, taxes, a jobs bill, regulation reform, immigration policy, etc. etc. We are quickly losing ground globally."

On the state level, Golden said, "I'm a bit surprised Mark Critz [Democrat] didn't hold his seat in the 12th district. I suspect the 2010 gerrymandering of that district was effective.

We have our first woman attorney general -who knows - maybe she'll give [Gov. Tom] Corbett a challenge in the future - in more ways than one."

Republican challenger Keith Rothfus defeated Critz. The district covers southwestern Pennsylvania, including Green County and parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Golden said, "I will be watching to see if all the talk of bi-partisanship is genuine. In any event, we might have a year or two before we start hearing ads for the 2016 election."

Jace Condravy, professor of English, said, "I was wary and reluctant to state expectations, but am relieved at the results. I believe that Obama won for several reasons - a genuine, believable concern coupled, with workable, helpful, moderate policies for the working and middleclass; a consistently stated confidence in the ethic of government's role in helping those who need it; a great political machine to get out the vote; lack of enthusiasm in the moderate Republican party for a candidate who prostrated himself before the fringe element of that party."

"There's a window of opportunity for some movement forward to solve the nation's pressing problems. I believe there are individuals in both parties who can and want to work together, but in Obama's last two years, the Republican fringe element effectively drowned out more moderate voices. Perhaps, even though Republicans still control the House, they will see in the election results that lost several Tea Party seats to Dems and the re-election of Obama, that the party is ready to reclaim itself as a conservative philosophy with statespeople who can compromise to work out important issues for the country," Condravy said.

She said the biggest change she now expects is "More of an effort from the branches of government to work with the president. A stronger, liberal voice from the president, though I expect he will continue to compromise and maintain his position as primarily a centrist president."

Tim Smith, professor in SRU's School of Physical Therapy, said, President Obama and Congress will now begin working closer together. "I think they will have to do so. In particular, I would like our Sen. [Pat] Toomey to strive toward bipartisan work. I hope he has it in him. His role model should certainly not be Sen. [Mitch] McConnell of Kentucky. That man owes his state a refund of his salary after spending years with a No. 1 priority of obstruction instead of actual legislative work."

Brad May, director of advancement services, said, "A biased media was responsible for Tuesday's outcome," and said he expects little to change in Washington "Because nothing has changed.

On the local level, May said he was surprised by the outcome of at least one local election. "One of our local area's candidates who seemed to have more ads, signs and billboards than his competitor candidate, lost."

His overall view of the future is not upbeat. "I expect to see a bigger decline in the economy overall."

Kimberly Allison, fiscal assistant in campus recreation, said the election went as she expected, "because Americans have short memories." She does not think President Obama and Congress will now begin working together, and she expects to see "more debt."

For Kurt Pitluga, assistant professor of art, the Tuesday's election was surprising. "I certainly did not expect a landslide victory for either one of these candidates. The election results indicate how very divided this country has become and will remain."

He sees little hope for better cooperation between the parties. "Not in the least. Republicans are the party of 'No'" and will remain so over the next four years. They want President Obama to fail, and they will continue to do everything in their power to see that happen."

Looking at other national races, Pitluga said, "I was truly surprised that Michelle Bachmann [Republican and unsuccessful GOP presidential nomination seeker] was re-elected in Minnesota. The vitriol that emanates from her mouth is an insult to the American public."

As for potential changes, Pitluga said, "President Obama will have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court judges, and I think that will be the biggest change."

He said, "Until Congress overturns the Supreme Court's 'Citizen's United' decision, allowing the ultra-rich to spend millions of dollars in elections, politics will continue to be controlled by big money."

For David Culp, professor in SRU's School of Business, "The election went the way I expected. This election was less about the economy than the press indicated. President Obama appeals to a broad spectrum of people that have not traditionally felt enfranchised in this country - young voters, women and minorities. His concerns for renewable energy, a good foreign policy, the rescue of the auto industry and his handling of Sandy all resounded well."

Looking toward the future, Culp, said, "I do not think the gridlock between the president and Congress will change. The Democrats remain in control of the Senate and the Republicans control of the House. John Boehner is already going on record with his unwillingness to compromise on tax increases and other things. A few key Tea Party candidates were defeated which might help."

"As a prediction, if the Republicans don't get closer to the center, which is what I feel defeated Romney, we will see Hillary Clinton in the White House four years from now. Bill Clinton did not become President Obama's MVS - Most Valuable Supporter - for the love of king and party," Culp said.

Eliott Baker, executive director of Academic Records and Summer School, knew where the election results were going. "I think Obama put together a coalition of women and minorities that when coupled with the Caucasian male vote put him over the top."

As for better relations between the White House and the Capitol, Baker said, "I would certainly hope so. While Obama's victory was not a mandate, he did win. This means Congress will have to work with him for the next four years, not just a few months. I think he too must reach out to Congress to find common ground on certain issues that are critical to everyone's welfare."

Baker said he was surprised "the Democrats picked up seats in the Senate," but added, "I wish I was optimistic that there would be change."

For Patrick Grant, professor of special education, the election went just as he expected - and wanted. "The best man to run the country for the next four years won. But, I am concerned about the illness of our country when decisions are made to disqualify a strong leader instead of working for the benefit of all our citizens."

He expects the biggest change the county will now see is a "more unified country. Now we can get on with the business of running the country with both parties working together, not for 40 or 50 percent of the country but 100 percent."

Thomas Pearcy, SRU history professor, also pegged the election just as it turned out. "This election pitted two very distinct approaches to the electorate: Democrats conducted a 'campaign of inclusion' that asked hundreds of thousands of citizens to work together for a common cause: re-elect President Obama. The average size of donations to the president's re-election was $50, made by literally hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters. Conversely, Republicans conducted a 'campaign of outreach.' They relied on a comparatively small number of supporters channeling enormous sums of money to Gov. Romney's campaign."

"This morning Newt Gingrich [an unsuccessful GOP presidential contender] explained the difference: '...outreach is when five white guys have a meeting and call you; inclusion is when you are in the meeting.' The two approaches faced off in the presidential election of 2012, and inclusion won," he said.

As for working together, Pearcy said, "Republican leaders must deal with their party's balkanization. Until then, the GOP will not be able to coalesce sufficiently to sustain effective negotiating."

He said he was struck by the Indiana Senate race. "After ousting long-time Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary, Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Similar scenes played out in three other races, and each accentuated just how badly divided the GOP has become. In the case of Indiana, Republicans surrendered a Senate seat they had held for decades because extremists within the party disdained Lugar's moderate record."

"Hopefully the 'next generation' of Republican leaders - along with their Democratic counterparts - will move their party and its adherents away from a platform that considers moderation to be a political liability," Pearcy said. "Despite Karl Rove's mind-boggling efforts with 'American Crossroads,' billionaires failed in their efforts to purchase the presidency."

Richard Martin, professor of political science, said, "The election went out quite close to what the 'elite media,' i.e. public radio and TV, New York Times, etc., were predicting. Also, it went quite closely to what friends of mine in the campaign business were telling me."

"I was still quite nervous watching - as a political scientist, like a chemist waiting on an expected reaction - but I felt quite a bit better when I found a map posted by AP online that gave real-time updates county-by-county across the battleground states. That enabled me to see where votes had not yet been tabulated," he said.

"At 9:45, that was the Miami-Dade county in Flordia, Norfolk and Cleveland. So one could take the pattern of voting - about 30 percent in those counties, and expand it to 100 percent - and have a real good idea of where Ohio, Virginia and Florida were going to end up. It was about the time when CBS was calling the election that I told my wife that it was almost over. So, the night did go as the political scientist in me expected - which felt a lot better than several earlier elections," he said.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.