Noted Presidential Scholar Offers November Prediction

For those on tenterhooks about the November election, presidential scholar Thomas Cronin’s take may relieve the tension: "Obama is going to win. And he may win big.

Cronin, the McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership at Colorado College, offered his insights into presidential politics during a talk in Johnson 104 on Oct. 2. (He moderated a vice presidential debate-watching party in Thorne Hall later that evening.)

An authority on the expanding power of the presidency in the 20th century, Cronin has written more than 150 articles on the subject and several books, including The Presidency Reappraised (1974), The State of the Presidency (1980), and The Paradoxes of the American Presidency (2003). He is a former president of Whitman College, and served as a White House Fellow and on the staff of the Brookings Institution, an independent political think tank in Washington, D.C.

Cronin began his lecture by taking 10 questions from students, weaving his answers into prepared remarks. Among the queries were whether Democratic Sen. Joe Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin were good vice presidential picks, and what states Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain would need to focus on to win the election.

"I think this year we have two decent presidential candidates, and we may have two decent vice-presidential candidates, but that remains to be seen," Cronin said. "We can do better. We can do better in the world, and we can do better in the White House. This is why we’re ready for change."

In explaining why he thinks Obama will win, Cronin opined that the economy, the selection of Palin, and the first presidential debate have all hurt McCain’s campaign. Cronin, who has been involved in presidential campaigns since 1960, also said he’s "never seen anything like the campaign effort" that’s being put forth by Obama and his grass-roots workers. In Iowa during the primaries, Cronin says, Obama’s workers were toiling 19-hour days compared to Hillary Clinton’s campaigners’ four-hour days.

Even though Cronin has confidence in an Obama victory, he warned that there are bound to be twists and turns between now and election day. The first rule of politics, he says, is "you’ve got to be prepared for the unexpected.