Political race changing, still too close for professors to determine
Many of the latest polls give Sen. Barack Obama a slight lead against Sen. John McCain in the race for the White House, but UH professors aren’t quite ready to cast votes for who will come in first.
"At this point it’s too close to call," said Amy Brandon, assistant professor of political science. "While they show Obama ahead in the polls, halo effect may put them even closer than they really are. If McCain plays his cards right, he could come out ahead this election."
The polls, however, haven’t moved since the curtain closed on convention theatrics last week.
"I’m not a big fan of what they call horse-race coverage. I’d rather have the media and the candidates address the issues than who’s ahead and who’s behind in the polls," Brandon said.
While Obama and McCain have very different ideas about economy, war and health care, both agree on change.
"Barack Obama is a fresh, interesting, new face. He’s a wonderful orator; he makes extraordinarily good public speeches, and many people think of him as sort of another John Kennedy-like character in American politics," political science professor Robert Lineberry said.
Lineberry also said Obama’s rise from obscurity to potential president of the United States is kind of a wonderful American story.
"John McCain has a kind of wonderful American story as well," Lineberry said. "He has a war record and has sort of created an image for himself over the years that make him an interesting character in American politics. He likes to portray the image of being independent."
Choosing Sarah Palin as his vice president further illustrates McCain’s independence. He stands by his running mate with vigor, even though Palin has been attacked for her inexperience and her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.
For Peter Roussel, political commentator for Channel 13, presidential campaigns are becoming more unpredictable.
"One thing I’ve learned in 40 years, is 24 hours can be an eternity in a presidential campaign," Roussel said, "The landscape is constantly changing."
News of Palin’s daughter gained momentum quickly after reports and photos started popping up on the Internet.
"It’s shocking for a conservative Republican candidate to have to deal with a situation like that, but if the Democrats push it too hard, it may end up actually benefiting the Republicans because there are an increasingly large number of unwed, teenage mothers," Brandon said,
Advances in technology leave little room for error, as Palin, McCain and Obama have all come under fire.
"(Candidates) must be more aware; every word you utter can be translated and repeated. If the candidate makes a mistake, it’s repeated over and over several times before tomorrow morning," Roussel said.
On the flip side, technology has been a key factor in shaping campaigns this election.
"Political campaigns today are a lot more technologically savvy than they use to be. It’s becoming a part of campaigns in the way that touring is a part of campaigns," Lineberry said.
As Obama and McCain continue to run the course of their campaigns, it becomes more evident that it’s still anybody’s race.
"If you ask ‘Who do you think is gonna win’, I’m gonna say, ‘I don’t know,’" Roussel said.