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Dean of Clinton School of Public Service to talk politics at Lyon College Dec. 6

Article by Madeline Pyle
Lyon College

With the results of mid-term elections still fresh, many might wonder the fate of the 2020 elections. Next Thursday, Dec. 6, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service James L. “Skip” Rutherford III and Lyon College’s William Jefferson Clinton Professor of International Politics Bradley Gitz will discuss their predictions for the 2020 elections in “What 2018 Means for 2020: A Conversation on the Mid-Term Elections.”

Sponsored by the Lyon College political science department, the event will take place at 4 p.m. in the Maxfield Room of Edwards Commons on the Lyon College campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Both varying on the political spectrum, Rutherford and Gitz will give their predictions for 2020 and share their perspectives of the political playing field.

“While Brad [Gitz] and I often do not agree on our politics, I have the highest respect for him as a professor and a friend, and I look forward to a spirited but civil conversation which is something our country could use more of,” said Rutherford, a Lyon College trustee and founder of the Political Animals Club.

“Mid-term elections are generally viewed as referendums on the sitting president and the president’s party,” said Rutherford. “What made 2018 unique was the significant increase in voter turnout when compared to previous mid-terms.”

Skip RutherfordDean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service James L. “Skip” Rutherford III / Image via Lyon College

As for his predictions, Rutherford noted 2020 could be another good year for Democrats, but the Electoral College might be a factor.

“The Democrats won the national popular vote by large margins in 2016 and 2018 and likely will again in 2020, but Democrats will still face an Electoral College challenge in 2020. Based on the 2018 vote, there are still some of the same toss-up states but others that probably should be added or removed from the list.”

“I would argue that Nov. 6 was a generally good day for Democrats and bad for the GOP…,” said Gitz, the freelance political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, when asked about the mid-term results and his 2020 predictions. “On the other hand, the Democrat takeover of the House might also actually boost Donald Trump’s re-election prospects — if he indeed chooses to run — by giving him the perfect foil of a Democratic House run by Nancy Pelosi.”

Like Rutherford, Gitz looks forward to the conversation.

“This is a case of two friends with great interest in politics, but sometimes different views, getting together to discuss what the mid-terms on Nov. 6 mean for the next two years, including for the re-election prospects of President Trump,” he said. “It will be interesting to hear how Skip [Rutherford] sees things.”

Lyon College’s John Trimble Sr. Professor of Political Philosophy Scott Roulier will moderate the discussion.

“Though one should avoid the temptation to read too much into the midterm election, it does reveal some information about how the electorate is responding to the policy changes that have been implemented by the new administration,” said Roulier.

“The main goal of this political science department-sponsored event, then, is to give students and members of the local community an opportunity to listen to two experts interpret the meaning of the election results—to assess the strategic changes each party is making and to speculate about what 2018 might portend for 2020.”


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