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Three Views of Presidential Politics

The second of two University Lectures collects three diverse perspectives on the upcoming presidential election. Professors from the History, Journalism, and Government departments faced off. The event gives first-year students an opportunity to interact with leading members of our faculty—scholars, scientists, and civic leaders who are nationally and internationally renowned. Signature Course students are required to attend one of the offered lectures, each designed to create a campus-wide conversation about shared intellectual topics. More about the Lecture Series.

Read about the first lecture in the Daily Texan
Read about the second lecture in the Daily Texan


Dr. H.W. Brands
History Department
The election of 2012 will hinge on voters’ sense of the direction of the economy. This has been the rule for two centuries in American politics. But whoever wins will claim a larger mandate and will set about trying to put that mandate into effect.

Dr. Regina G. Lawrence
School of Journalism
In 2020, scholars will be looking back at 2012 as a turning point in the role of money in presidential elections. The new role of so-called super PACs has brought unprecedented levels of spending, particularly on TV and Internet ads, most of them “attack” ads and many of them based on non-factual claims. But scholars in 2020 will also look back to see what 2012 signaled for the future of voting and citizenship in the U.S. Did rates of voting among young Americans continue to rise?

Dr. Daron Shaw
Government Department
Although many pundits rate Barack Obama as a solid favorite to win re-election, political scientists are much less sanguine about the president’s prospects for re-election. Indeed, economic models of presidential voting show Mitt Romney as the front-runner. Years from now, 2012 is therefore likely to be seen as a critical test for the power of these models; moving forward, how much stock do we put in these factors as the U.S. economy and electorate evolve?