Ark-La-Tex political scientists weigh in on election results

Nov 7, 2012

Area political scientists have takeaways from Tuesday's election returns.

Louisiana’s big turnout matters, according to Greg Granger a professor of history and political science at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Granger said turnout was high, despite the fact that many races were uneventful contests.

"When we have a tight election, I think people think their vote matters more, and they're more likely to turn out,” Granger said.

Despite the neck-and-neck polls, LSU Shreveport political scientist Jeffrey Sadow was a bit surprised by the outcome of the presidential race. He said his colleagues will scratch their heads for some time trying to ferret out how President Barack Obama found a clear path to victory, in light of historical data. Sadow said President Obama defied all of the historical markers to win his second term.

"No president, going back to 1936, has won reelection with unemployment where it is,” Sadow said. “No president has ever won being behind in the polls in mid-October, and then come back to win a few weeks later.”

The path to victory centered on swing states. Professor Ken Collier of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches anticipates there will be disgruntled voters who felt the cold shoulder in this election. He said the presidential campaigns focused all of their time, attention and jet fuel on a handful of crucial battleground states.

"I think a lot of people are going to be thinking about how much attention was on swing states, and how so many of us in other states were just ignored,” Collier said. “I think you'll see a lot of voters in these big states who got ignored, will get restless."

In Arkansas, voters approve a one-half percent road construction tax. Professor Paul Babbitt of Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia said he was surprised by the broad-based support for a sales tax.

“Arkansans seem to want to tax themselves to build more roads,” Babbitt said.