Skidmore hosts post-election forum
Skidmore faculty members shed light on lingering questions about the outcome and complex dynamics shaping the U.S. presidential election in an online forum with members of the Skidmore community.
The conversation, moderated by Assistant Professor of Political Science Chris Mann, featured Associate Professor of Sociology Amon Emeka and Associate Professors of Political Science Feryaz Ocakli, Natalie Taylor and Bob Turner.
“This is both one of the most historic and one of the most polarizing elections any of us has lived through. And, with the pressures of the pandemic, even casting a vote has become challenging in ways we never imagined,” President Marc C. Conner said during the Nov. 4 event. “Here at Skidmore, we are very fortunate to have our own social scientists to help us understand what is going on.”
The faculty experts fielded a range of questions posed by members of the Skidmore community, ranging from the role of race in the election to media coverage.
Mann, an expert in electoral politics, opened the discussion by emphasizing that the extended period of time necessary to tabulate the votes had been anticipated long before the election, and votes have never been counted in a single evening.
“I want to stress more than anything that everything going on in the election is normal, by the book, by the rules. This was expected,” said Mann, who lauded the efforts of poll workers and election officials across the country in conducting this election during a pandemic. “It has been remarkably problem-free.”
Emeka, a demographer, discussed population shifts and other trends, including the aging of the U.S. population and the changing racial composition of the United States. At the same time, he mentioned his surprise at the outcome in places such as Miami-Dade County in Florida, where President Donald Trump’s strong showing had not been anticipated by many pundits.
“Racial identifies are fluid and historically contingent,” noted Emeka, who also serves as director of Skidmore’s First-Year Experience.
Taylor, who is chair of the Department of Political Science, discussed federalism and the motivations of the country’s founders in establishing the Electoral College, which elects the president of the United States. Ocakli discussed international aspects of the election, including interest in the intricacies of American elections at even a local level.
“The rest of the world is watching,” Ocakli said. “The U.S. presidential election has a lot of power over how the rest of the world leads their life.”
Turner stressed the important role of local and state governments in the wake of an election that could yield a divided Congress. Turner said states and local governments will play increasingly important roles in providing access to health care and education and addressing other important issues, like racial justice and police reform.
Regardless of the outcome, “state and local governments are going to be more important after the election,” said Turner, who encouraged college students to vote and be active in elections in their local communities.