The ballots are counted and results announced. Now the question is: “What does the recent presidential, congressional and the Massachusetts election results mean?” To shed some light on this topic, the ACEC/MA Program Committee sponsored an election wrap-up on November 8, 2012. Speakers included Larry Rasky, Chairman of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Ernest Paicopolos, Principal of Opinion Dynamic Corporation.
Larry Rasky led off the presentations. He felt that the main points of the election were: several crucial issues were debated during the election; the money spent on the campaigns was enormous; and the public made a statement to the government, as witnessed by the support to the President relative to the President’s action on the auto industry bail out.
Prior to President Obama’s first election in 2008, Mr. Rasky believes that the President did not understand how bad the economy was. Mr. Rasky felt that the mid-term election signaled the end of the “on the job training,” so in November 2010, the Republicans took over in the congress. However, the pubic appears to have approved of the stimulus money that went to hiring teachers, fire and police forces, as illustrated by the voters support and election results in industrial heartland states.
Mr. Rasky noted that the debates took on a sense of a political version of “Saturday Night Live.” The first debate gave Romney a “second life” but he never performed in a way which would change the public’s opinion and the presidential race. Mr. Rasky felt that the handling of a series of actions early on forced Romney into severe conservatism even though he was already a moderate conservatist. The President took aim at the Republicans forcing Romney to appear even more conservative, as shown by the “etch a sketch” incident. The 47% video demonstrated how disconnected Romney was from the public and escalated a poor public opinion.
Ernie Paicoplos discussed the lessons learned and offered his overall impressions of the election. According to Mr. Paicopolos President Obama was set to beat the challenger, even though there was still health care concerns and high unemployment. The Democratic team had re-framed the issues to help themselves and secure a win at the election. Hurricane Sandy clearly helped the re-election of President Obama. Mitt Romney did not know how to address the new voting group in the country.
According to Mr. Paicopolos, other key takeaways include:
• There was not a large margin to the win, suggesting that the US is still divided on who should run the country.
• Pre-election polling was validated in that the election was as close as the polls had predicted.
• Party identification still matters.
• The shift in demographics matters, such as marital status rather than gender, and independent voters not being as big an issue as it was in 2008.
• The Republican party needs to re-cast themselves to address the changed make-up of the voters, such as changes in white voters vs. non-white voters, and the increasing younger population of voters.
• Issue targeting works, when campaigning in target areas.
• There was a “super storm surge.” Hurricane Sandy clearly effected the election; 42% of voters said responses to “Sandy” by the Obama administration were important and appropriate. Even Governor Christy’s opinion of the administration had changed.
• “It was the improving economy stupid”—people believed this point of view, as noted by the 6 out of 10 who voted in Ohio in favor of the President and his car industry bailout.
Mr. Paicopolos stated that “in politics you never know what will happen.” When asked what he thought the upcoming areas of concern and attention would be, he predicted that clean energy, the energy/security bill and transportation would see a renewed focus in the next Congress, as a result of Hurricane Sandy and a renewed awareness on infrastructure. He further commented that the future for the engineering community appeared to be strong, with considerable opportunities for new work expected to be coming out in the near future.
This article comes from the Winter 2013 edition of ACEC Insights publication and was written by Associate Wayne C. Perry, who currently serves as a member of the ACEC/MA Programs Committee. He can be reached at 508-747-7900, Ext. 193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some more lighthearted news and updates:
Wayne Perry, a Norfolk Ram Associate, Professional Engineer, and Licensed Site Professional, was able to add one more accredidation to his already impressive resume: Top Bowler!
During a bowling event last week in Somerville for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts, Wayne bowled the highest score out of all of the participants. In the spirit of full-disclosure, it was Candlepin bowling, and he didn't finish the second round, so his score was pro-rated based on the frames he had bowled in the second round.