The day after: Ken Bickers talks surprises, negative ads

November 7, 2012
Many political scientists and presidential historians are probably shaking their heads in disbelief today. That’s because history has shown that when the economy is not doing well incumbent presidents usually lose reelections, says Ken Bickers, political science professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. 
 
“When we look back historically at economic conditions in various states, history would suggest that this is an election in which a challenger would be able to knock off an incumbent. And while the factors don’t point toward a landslide in that direction, it certainly pointed in that direction. And so the president, in a sense, rose above those economic conditions, and that surprises me.”
 
Why did former Gov. Romney not win the election? According to Bickers, early negative ads and Romney’s stance on immigration may have played a heavy hand in his loss.
 
“One was the early torrent of negative ads in the battle ground states -- the Bain ads that began to paint him and define him as someone who couldn’t be trusted with the economy. I also think that the tone of the Republican nomination process put him in a box, particularly with the Latino voters, that he couldn’t find a way out of -- his kind of harsh, strident position on illegal immigrants. I don’t think he ever found a way out of that.”
 
Even though President Obama won reelection, Bickers says chances are slim-to-none that things will change on Capitol Hill since the Republicans still control the House.
 
“I don’t think that’s very likely. The Republicans in the House have a mandate. They didn’t lose the majority. They didn’t lose any of the majority and they may have expanded that majority. They are clearly seeing that they were returned to office based on their policies and their actions over the last two years.”
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