Friday, November 30, 2012

From Congress to My Classroom: Zack Space, Part II

In the summer of 2011, former U.S. Rep. Zack Space (D-OH) visited my American Congress and Presidency classes. Elected in the Democratic wave of 2006, Space represented Ohio's 18th congressional district until his defeat in the Republican wave election of 2010. Today, he visited with my upper-level students (mostly majors) currently enrolled in those courses plus students taking my mostly freshman-level Government & Politics in the U.S. course.

As was the situation last year, the students were treated to a display of knowledge, candor, honesty, and humor that is rare for guest speakers, particularly the cautious crowd of current and former members of Congress. All this despite the fact that he had a long drive from Dover early in the morning to make it to my 8:50 Congress class. And unlike some soon-to-be-retiring members of Congress, no speaking fee was required to get him to discuss such varied topics as the fiscal cliff, gerrymandering, campaign finance, and the recent election. Many thanks to Mr. Space for taking a huge chunk out of his day to come visit with my students at The University of Akron.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Obama-Romney Post-Election Meeting: No Bromance Expected

Politico Arena Topic: A Romney-Obama Friendship?

The meeting between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is the political equivalent of two head coaches of rival sports teams shaking hands after the conclusion of a heated game. Just like the Yankees and Red Sox or Packers and Bears, the handshake means nothing except to signify that at the end of the contest, the combatants can be somewhat civil towards each other but the rivalry will continue.

Unlike John McCain who continued in his capacity as a U.S. Senator following his 2008 defeat, Mitt Romney has no position in government and thus will have absolutely no impact on policy or politics. Democrats won’t need to listen to him and Republicans won’t want to.

I also do not foresee Obama and Romney becoming bosom buddies down the road as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did. The 2012 election was a particularly bitter contest (not that all presidential elections aren’t tough) and both candidates seemed to have a high level of disdain for one another. In the end, the meeting will make for a nice photo-op but will disappear quickly from the public consciousness as focus will turn back to the fiscal cliff Washington is staring at through the windshield.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dan Coffey: The Myth of the Ohio Bellwether County

My colleague, Professor Dan Coffey, the primary author of Buckeye Battleground, has written a highly-relevant post that should be of much interest as we enter the final few days of the 2012 presidential election. It is titled "The Myth of the Ohio Bellwether County."

Coffey observes that: "One of the questions that I often get is what counties are the most important bellwethers for Ohio. Many pundits claim that these counties can predict the outcome of the national election and so observers should keep a close eye on them (see here or here). Generally, I point out that this notion is largely a myth and...go through some of the reasons these “bellwether” counties are competitive, but why the impact of these counties tends not to mean that much in helping to understand the presidential race in Ohio."

Instead Coffey argues observers should focus on regions: "it is not really useful to think of individual counties. Rather counties are within regions and regional differences do tell us something important, a point which me and my co-authors make in covering the Five Ohios in our book Buckeye BattlegroundIndividual counties are often driven by the same sets of forces, and aggregating counties into regions provides a better sense of the whole picture.

Coffey's post is located here: "The Myth of the Ohio Bellwether County."

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