Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A tight race expected tonight, UAB professor says

Today’s election is going to be tight, says Larry Powell, Ph.D., professor of communication studies and political expert.

President Barack Obama will take the Electoral College, Powell predicts. Former Governor Mitt Romney, on the other hand, will likely capture the popular vote, he says.

“Obama is doing better in battlegrounds,” Powell says, but adds that if Romney captures one of the key swing states, he could win.

Tonight, students, faculty and staff can hobnob with political and government experts and get the 411 on the election process during a returns viewing event sponsored by the Vice Provost for Student and Faculty Success.

Three jumbo screens will be set to major news networks, and professors in the departments of Government and Communication Studies will be on hand to circulate among the crowd and give political commentary from 7 to 10 p.m. in the commons area of Blazer Hall.

Although Powell won’t be there (he’ll be offering election insight on NBC 13 during their 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts), he says he expects tonight's event to feature lots of interesting discussions, including how the long lines of early voters will affect the final outcome.

Powell says that historically the Republicans have done a better job with absentee votes, while Democrats do better with early voting, so the early votes could work in Obama’s favor.

“Obama had a ground game that was significantly better,” Powell says of the 2008 race, but adds that this election, “Romney has cut the distance between them.”

Swirling racial tension has been an issue this election, Powell says.

“There is a definite part of the Republican Party that opposes Obama because of that,” he says. “But this time, you are missing the racial enthusiasm you had during the last election, because he is not doing anything groundbreaking.”

Hurricane Sandy could impact the popular vote, Powell says. “It could affect New York and New Jersey, but it won’t affect the Electoral College vote. Obama will win those.”

In the end, it could be any man’s victory tonight, Powell says. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

About the blogger: Marie Sutton, masutton@uab.edu, is a media specialist in the UAB Office of Media Relations. Her beat includes humanities, social sciences, the School of Education and student life.

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