Faculty weigh in on presidential race

Faculty experts at UH said they expect this year’s presidential race to be tight down to the last minute.

As the race race nears its conclusion in November, the result depends in a large part on the way in which the media portrays the candidates, said Lindita Camaj, assistant professor at Jack J. Valenti School of Communication.

“This is very close,” Camaj said. “Usually, it’s in the close elections that the media has the greatest impact.”

Brandon Rottinghaus, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, said that although the Democrats came out on top after the national conventions, he expected things to level out again before the election.

“The energy from the Democratic side was a bit more pronounced,” Rottinghaus said. “It will return to equilibrium. Both sides had success at getting their volunteer organizations and bases rallied, so they both did what they needed to do.”

Rottinghaus also discussed the importance of influencing voters in swing states.

“In the end, it’s going to come down to what they believe,” Rottinghaus said. “If they’re concerned about what Romney’s going to do, Obama can say, ‘Let me tell you what they’re going to do,’ and fill in those details with less than flattering illustrations. Republicans can be a bit more vague, because they have the ability to say, ‘It’s not working.'”

Elizabeth Simas, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, said Texas Democrats — especially Houstonians — shouldn’t feel absolved of their obligation to vote just because Texas is traditionally a red state.

“As indicated by Mayor (Julian) Castro’s prominent presence at the DNC, Texas’ growing Hispanic population could have an impact on how competitive the Democrats are in Texas, which can lead to more campaigning efforts and money being put into Texas on both sides,”  she said. “This election is going to be close, and voter turnout can send the signal to Democrats that, although Texas is red now, it might not be forever. It’s still really important to vote.”

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