SF State News {University Communications}

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Political scientists share election insights

Nov. 1 , 2010 -- As Election Day approaches, political science faculty are keeping a close eye on the California election and midterm races across the country. At a campus community event on Tuesday, Nov. 2, a panel of faculty experts will provide analysis as the results roll in.

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Associate Professor of Political Science Francis Neely will be watching how changes in voters' loyalty to their party could shift the balance of power in Congress. "Research has shown that in the last 20 years, Americans are identifying more and more closely with the two main political parties, but now we'll have to see how much people are willing to defect," Neely said. "The bad economy provides an added twist in this election. Democrats are likely to be the most anxious voters, and it will be interesting to see whether the Tea Party movement can appeal to libertarian-minded independent voters."

Neely predicts Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives. "Historically, the party of the sitting president loses seats in the midterm election so it's likely that the Republicans will win a majority in the house," Neely said. "That's the drama we'll be looking for on Tuesday."

David Tabb, an expert on national politics and the Latino vote, agrees. "We expect to see a lower turnout among the Latino, African American and young voters who voted for Obama in 2008, but who may not vote in this election," said Tabb, professor emeritus of political science. "This definitely makes Democratic candidates more vulnerable."

In California, Jerry Brown's recent 10 point lead over Republican challenger Meg Whitman could shore up support for Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, according to Tabb. "The extra turnout in support of Brown will help Boxer, because the people who come to polls to vote for Brown may vote for Boxer at the same time," Tabb said.

Tabb and Neely will appear on the Nov. 2 panel alongside Political Science Lecturer David Lee, an expert on Chinese voters and urban politics in San Francisco. 

"A lot hangs in the balance with San Francisco's Board of Supervisors elections," Lee said. "Several well-known progressives have been termed out, and the new Board of Supervisors will be responsible for selecting an interim mayor if Gavin Newsom wins his bid for lieutenant governor."

The election night event takes place Nov. 2, from 6 to 10 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

Open to the campus community and the general public, the event is part of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences public lecture series, titled "California: The Promise and Now the Reality in the 2010 Governor's Election," which continues through Dec. 8.


-- Elaine Bible


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