Assessing the 2008 "Super Primaries"
The extraordinary level of interest in the presidential primaries and their unusual scheduling this winter prompted the Boisi Center to arrange a post-primary panel discussion featuring members of the political science faculty — Professors Marc Landy, Kay
Schlozman and Alan Wolfe. Scheduled for Wednesday, February 13, eight days after “Super Tuesday,” the panel was envisioned as a recap of the election results and discussion of how the presumptive nominees engineered their triumph. Of course, while McCain had emerged as the clear Republican front runner, the Democratic nominee remained in doubt.
Braving the torrential rain, a large contingent of Boston College students filled the Fulton Debate Room. Schlozman opened the panel by noting that she is a professor, not a pundit, so she focused on providing historical context for the arcane primary system that has perplexed so many voters, young and old alike. Wolfe and Landy, both active pundits, traded good-natured and entertaining jabs from the left and right. All three panelists discussed the effect of last year’s American military “surge” on McCain’s bid, the role of anti-Mormon sentiment in the demise of Romney’s candidacy and the massive missteps of the Giuliani campaign.
Although unable to predict for the large, hopeful audience of Boston College undergraduates the eventual Democratic nominee, the professors provided context and discussion of the Clinton and Obama candidacies. They discussed the looming questions of whether the United States is ready for either a black or female president, and whether race or gender would prove to be the greater handicap to electability. (The consensus: gender remains the greater handicap.) Due in part to the success of the post-primary panel, the Boisi Center is planning a significant panel discussion following the general election in November 2008, by which time — unlike in 2000 — we hope the election will actually be over.