This is the best of times for political junkies. That was the message that Charlie Cook delivered to attendees at a lecture Friday afternoon at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, also answered questions from audience members about subjects ranging from the 2008 congressional elections to the surprisingly wide open race for the White House.
“This is the weirdest political environment that I’ve ever seen,” Cook said. “What we all do is we study the past, looking for patterns and trends and things, and it’s usually very helpful. This year I think it’s better to go with that slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous, ‘Take it one day at a time.’”
Cook hedged away from making firm predictions on who would win either the Republican or Democratic nomination, noting that he’d once said he would win the Tour de France before Rudy Guiliani won a Republican presidential nomination. Ultimately he said he suspects Mitt Romney will win that party’s nomination but the Democratic nomination is still too close to pick. Democratic voters, he said, have been so buoyed by their retaking of Congress in 2006, they’re looking to make history, even if it means considering a candidate only four years removed from a state legislature.
“Obama’s rise reminds me of a second wife,” Cook said. “It’s the triumph of hope over experience.”
The talk, which was held at the 12th-floor lounge of the Lowenstein Center, was sponsored by Fordham University’s Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy. Costas Panagopoulos, the center’s director, noted in his introduction that when he worked with Cook for NBC News during the 2006 national elections, they were the first network to call the switch of power in House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat.
“He’s widely regarded as one of the nations’ best non partisan trackers of election outcomes, “he said. “It’s remarkable to me just how much knowledge and information he has about 435 congressional districts in 50 states and on the national level.”