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Experts predict election outcome at WSU Vancouver Chancellor’s Seminar Series

Featured speakers at WSU Vancouver’s fall Chancellor’s Seminar Series highlighted pivotal political questions that voters in Washington state and across the country decided on Election Day.

David Ammons, communications director and senior policy advisor to Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, has 37 years of prior experience as a political and state journalist for the Associated Press. Carolyn Long, interim vice chancellor of academic affairs and professor of political science at WSU Vancouver has worked for the WSU Vancouver School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs for more than 17 years.

“This is an amazing year for elections,” Ammons said. “I am truly fascinated by how we self-govern in this country, how we pick our leaders, how we stumble and pick ourselves up and go at it some more.”

Ammon predicted this year’s  election will be a “watershed election that we’ll talk about for a long time.”

Washington state will elect a new governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state auditor and will fill three open congressional seats.
“We have a governor’s race that is very, very tight,” Aamons said. “That’s going to be exceptionally interesting to watch.”

Ammons said President Obama is likely to carry the state again, although his margins have been shrinking in the latest state polls and are even tighter nationally.

“It will come down to Ohio,” Ammons said.

Ammons said polls indicate both gay marriage and marijuana will be legalized in Washington State.

“We probably have the best ballot measures in the country this year — best, most far reaching, history-making, whatever adjective you would like to use,” Ammons said. “At this point, polls show both [same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana] passing.”

Charter schools are also on the ballot for the fourth time and redistricting is playing out for the first time.

Aamons said technology has become a huge part of election administration in Washington state and has successfully moved voter registration online. Three-fourths of the public is registering to vote in new ways and smartphone apps help to notify users of election results.

“[Washington state] received [national] attention by teaming with Microsoft and Facebook to create a Facebook app that redirects people from Facebook to voter registration,” Ammons said. “We are continually looking for ways to broaden participation. We want every qualified person to be registered and participating.”

Long predicted that Barack Obama will win re-election. She said voter share attributed to white, working class voters who are most resistant to President Obama is plummeting.

People of color, especially Hispanics, are dominating national population growth and they will do so for decades to come, said Long.

“In 2008, the non-white vote for President Obama was 80 percent. He received 96 percent of the black vote and a Hispanic vote of 62 percent. Today, 65 percent of Latinos believe the Democratic Party best represents their interests…It’s also interesting that when asked whom they were going to vote for, they suggested they will vote for President Obama at almost 70 percent,” Long said. “If this is true, then Mitt Romney will likely lose the Latino vote by the largest margin of any Republican candidate in recent years. The caveat is whether or not Latinos actually choose to vote.”

Long also said there is an increase in the voter share of college-educated whites.

“The Democratic Party, Obama in particular, has been more successful in getting those votes,” Long said. “Republicans used to have a 20-point advantage for college educated whites. That shrank to four points with President Obama in 2008 and it continues shrinking.”

Long also predicted most Congressional incumbents will be re-elected, the Senate remaining Democrat and the House, Republican.

About the Series
The Chancellor’s Seminar Series was initiated five years ago by Chancellor Emeritus Hal Dengerink, said Mel Netzhammer, chancellor of WSU Vancouver.

“The exchange of ideas is one of the hallmarks of the university,” Netzhammer said.

Jacob Schmidt, a WSU Vancouver senior majoring in English, attended the seminar because he wanted to educate himself about the elections.

“I enjoyed Carolyn Long’s bold, straight-out-of-the gate predictions and how she supported them by looking at the changes in voter demographics,” said Schmidt. “I also got a chuckle out of Chancellor Netzhammer’s quip comparing his Q & A moderating abilities to those of Candy Crowley. Attending this event allowed me to have a fully formed perspective on the issues.”

For Schmidt, the most important election to watch is the state gubernatorial race.

“Both Long and Ammons predict it will be a very tight race, and I think it’s a chance for Washington voters to show that each vote does count,” Schmidt said. “This [race] seems especially important for us college students who are facing record-high tuition rates.”

Shyanna Reyes, a junior majoring in business management, said she enjoyed the event’s atmosphere and the speakers.

“I tend to focus on social issues such as equal rights and a woman’s choice; however, I still fully believe there are many other important issues to discuss such as healthcare, our deficit, etc.,” Reyes said.

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