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Hastings College professor analyzes the U.S. Senate race
After Fischer declared her victory late Tuesday night, News 5 spoke with Hastings college political science professor Bob Amyot for analysis on the election in general and the heated race for Nebraska's U.S. Senate seat.
Chris Schukei: Were you surprised at how early the Presidential race was called?
Professor Bob Amyot: Very much so. We knew that Obama had many paths to victory as far as which states he could put together and we knew that Ohio would be the key to his victory. If he lost it it would be tougher. But the idea that they can call Ohio so early with so many provisional votes still uncounted I'm a little nervous. I'm surprised they called it that quickly.
Chris: Yeah, as we sit here at just about 11:00 Central on a Tuesday night the popular vote is still very even so there's lots of votes still out there, but again the electoral part of it. Will this bring up that conversation again?
Bob: It could be. It would be really interesting to see if the country has a different attitude about it if a Democrat is elected with the electoral votes when a Republican got the popular vote. Remember back in 2000 the country was just happy to have a President at that point and nobody had a whole lot of energy at that point to change the constitution.
Chris: As we look at the Senate that will stay on the Democratic side; the House stays on the Republican side. Are we in for four more years of gridlock?
Bob: We very well could be because the new House is going to be kind of stripped of the moderates and the Senate the same thing. We've got even more idealogical partisans and so it could be really tough for anything to happen. Now, that said, with four years to the next Presidential election Republicans who know they're going to have to run for re-election in 2014 they know that sometimes Congress is punished as a do-nothing Congress. So they may actually go ahead and cooperate for the next two years and then after that we'll see. It's not all doom and gloom. I think we may see more cooperation in the next two years than we did in the last two years.
Chris: We heard from voters that that was what was the most frustrating for them. It's now did anyone hear that and will that respond in that sense?
Bob: Right, and that was certainly a chord Mitt Romney was trying, to say, hey, I'll work with the other guys. So clearly his people were saying that was an important message. A lot of Americans wanted to hear that.
Chris: Locally, the Senate race for Ben Nelson's Senate seat between Deb Fischer and Bob Kerrey was certainly the most heated. Deb Fischer, obviously, coming out as a winner. Were you surprised at all by how any of that played out?
Bob: Well, it really seemed to me that the charges against Deb Fischer would do some damage and certainly we saw her drop in the polls, but not enough. I think Kerrey running as a Democrat, I think that matters a lot to a lot of folks today that maybe it didn't matter 10 years ago.
Chris: Do you think when he got into this race before the Primary he was confident it was going to be against a Jon Bruning or maybe a Don Stenberg and that Deb Fischer was so far behind that it wasn't even a part of their thinking?
Bob: Sure, I don't think anyone took Deb Fischer seriously before that. And running Bob Kerrey against a very conservative person who had perhaps made a lot of enemies and stepped on a lot of toes that would have been brilliant. But against an unknown like Deb Fischer who comes out really with she's the Republican and she's a rancher it's kind of hard to run against that. They tried.
Chris: But certainly had to change their strategy with that. Well, everyone is tired of all the campaign commercials. It's been long and drawn out. Any predictions on how much of a break we'll get before we start the discussion on 2014 and even 2016?
Bob: 2014 we can maybe have 6-9 months and, of course, the race for President in 2016 has already begun.
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