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Scholar: Bid to Change Electoral Vote May Decide ’08 Race


Susan A. Beck, Ph.D., discusses the good, bad and ugly of the Presidential Election 2008 with a College at 60 crowd at the Lincoln Center campus.
Photo by Ryan Brenizer

An effort by California Republicans to change the way that state’s electoral votes are distributed could tip the scales in favor of the GOP in the next presidential election, said Susan A. Beck, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, at a speech at Fordham University on Oct. 24.

The ballot measure would apportion electoral votes in a presidential election by congressional district rather than the current winner-take-all system in what has been in recent years a reliably Democratic state. That would mean that a Republican candidate could fare poorly in overall voting but still pickup perhaps a dozen or more electoral votes.

“If California puts this through, the Democrats would be in very deep trouble,” said Beck, whose speech was part of Fordham’s College at 60 lecture series. “The Republicans wouldn’t have to do anything anywhere else—they’ll win the presidency—end of story.”

In her address at McNally Amphitheatre, Beck ranged wide covering “the good, the bad and the ugly” as it relates to the 2008 elections. The College at 60 program is designed for people 50 years of age or older who would like to take courses at Fordham.

For Beck, the good news of the election season is the diverse array of presidential candidates, which include a woman, an African American and a Hispanic American. Beck also pointed out that thrice married and twice-divorced Rudy Giuliani may have had difficulty vying for the Republican nomination just 15 years ago.

On the other hand, she highlighted the seemingly never-ending campaign season and the misinformation that too-often is made available to voters by websites and blogs as the downside.

And the ugly she reserved for the war in Iraq.

“Iraq has implications for any future president that goes far beyond what happens within its borders,” Beck said. “President George W. Bush said, ‘You’re with us or against us.’ Well, guess what? They’re against us.”

Beck also addressed the challenges facing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as the lone female candidate in the race for the White House.

“If she’s too decisive, she’s considered unfeminine; if she’s caring, she’s considered too soft,” Beck said. “She is a woman trying to play a man’s game and it isn’t clear to me that she can overcome that.”

Clinton’s supporters, Beck said, remain confident that the former first lady can put together a strategy that will work for her.

“But there is very clear polling evidence that has shown she has a fragility in a certain segment of the population,” Beck said. “When I said the war in Iraq is the elephant in the room, I meant it. People are very nervous about the prospect of terrorism and the last election was won by the Republicans because of that. I happen to think the conversation about Iran is an effort to bring back all those old feelings again to work to the advantage of the Republican Party.”

As to why Clinton has not apologized for her vote to support the war in Iraq, Beck said the senator may have been envisioning her Republican opponents when making her decision.
“From her point of view, she’s less worried about her Democratic colleagues and was more concerned about how she’ll do against the Republicans,” Beck said. “[Her vote] has gotten her in hot water and it’s surprising how strong she’s gotten in the polls.”

Beck, who is an expert in American politics, is currently conducting research on Eleanor Roosevelt and her role in framing the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


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