Professor Pundits: Who’s Ahead? It’s Debatable.

After weeks of build up, the first of three presidential debates is behind us. Who won? Both sides seem to think Mitt Romney clinched the debate. Will that give his campaign a boost? And why is it that the polls have showed Obama steadily inching ahead of Romney, yet political scientists consider the race a dead heat? Professor Pundits Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson talk debates, ad strategy, and many other factors that will impact the election in these final weeks. If you have questions about the presidential campaign for the pundits, email them to

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  1. I am PRAYING that Romney/Ryan will win.I have never been so scared by an election. I feel too large a % of Americans are plain STUPID!

  2. As a person who spent the largest portion of his career as a program director in a charged partisan setting (NYS Legislatures/Senate), I would suggest that you contemplate how to study this fact — and it is no less than a fact: that while government officials do call upon academics, researchers, and other specialists to help them identify all aspects of a problem then before them, once the academics and researchers are home and asleep the elected officials are in the upper room of a watering hole having dinner and chuckling about the eggheaded presumptions of those honored specialists. The reason most often given seems to be that while the specialists are well-meaning ‘good government’ people, they simply do

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    not understand _politics_. It is my sense that those specialists would be well-served should they study this a) to determine whether what persons, such as me, presume to be true — that my description well describes the fact ~ is true; and b) how to alter their presentations to better influence the elected officials than they now do. I write as one who has heard much after-the-fact laughter and continuously asked about it: why? I have asked the questions I had in NY, VT, RI, and CA. These states now are and long have been Democrat-influenced and politically controlled states no matter which party may have controlled them before the 1970s. It is curious to me that Democrats who often declare that one distinct difference between themselves and Republicans is that they will and do look to science to guide them and the policies and programs for which they advocate — but laugh at academics, researchers, and other specialists whom they invite to address them, behind their backs. If you could find away around that you would do something that falls within the descriptive “impossible,” and provide a means for current thought and means to make headway in legislative settings. [E.g., In education, sound ideas advocated today will not find their way into classrooms-at-large for twenty-five years, while less reliable “experiment” will fly into the curricula.] Go figure … and get some sun. Best wishes.

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  3. PLEASE, We do not want a socialistic nation. In the past those that have been have not faired well. Vote for Romney/Ryan.

  4. Vote for Obama:
    He saved the US auto industry
    He passed the Affordable HEalth Care Act which has enabled your parents to keep you on their health insurance until age 26….among other things
    He got Osama thereby making the US a safer place
    He got rid of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
    He minimized how much you will have to pay back in student loans
    He established credit card rules that favor the consumer.
    He understands the difference between running a business and running a country.
    He recaptured RESPECT for the US which had been sorely lost under The Bush debacle.
    Vote with intelligence. Vote for Obama.

  5. Dr. Williams,
    In the realm of political analysis, I have been heartened in this election cycle to see that the mainstream media is much more receptive to what political scientists like Bert and I say about events – such as the debates, or the role of advertising, or the convention bounce – than in past cycles. I take it that means we are making progress in getting journalists to pay attention to our research findings. If we go beyond that, however, to examine whether government officials heed our policy prescriptions, I’m less sanguine about our impact. But that may be a good thing – I’m not sure that in many (most?) policy areas our findings are robust

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    enough to be used to guide legislative action. In that vein, I pass on Dickinson’s Second Law of Politics: for every beneficial impact of a reform, there is always an equally negative and unanticipated consequence. In far too many instances when political scientists have played policy advocate, the consequences have not always been as anticipated.

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  6. It is a no-brainer. Romney-Ryan. President Obama does not realize that it is we the People who rule this country. Big goivernment never wins.

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