Belmont’s Edward C. Kennedy Center for Business Ethics and Executive Learning Network hosted renowned political analyst Charlie Cook on campus Wednesday, the day of the final presidential debate. Cook, who is publisher of the “Cook Political Report,” spoke on “Preparing for the Presidential Election and Change.” Engaging and humorous, Cook opened his remarks by saying, “I’m required by political analysts to say, ‘This is the strangest presidential election we’ve ever seen!'”
Cook went on to analyze the state of the race as of that morning, comparing and contrasting various polling category numbers for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. As part of his presentation, he encouraged attendees to look at the averages of the polls for the most accurate picture, recognizing RealClearPolitics.com and Pollster.com as competent and balanced resources. “There is a natural human tendency to cherry pick, to only look at the polls that reflects our individual point of view.” However, he also commented on the strong unfavorable ratings of both candidates.
Cook attributes the strangeness of this particular election to a number of issues. First, after living in Washington, D.C. since the 1970s and being involved in politics in various roles throughout that tenure, he sees the two primary political parties changing dramatically, “becoming far more ideological than they used to be.” The current media and social media environment in the U.S., he believes, is increasing the divide by creating ideological silos that heighten the differences between the two sides.
Cook also pointed to economic anxiety and political anger as defining characteristics of this campaign season. “There is profound pessimism about where the country is that doesn’t necessarily match up with what the data says.”
According to his analysis, Cook thinks that the House will retain a Republican advantage, but that the Senate will come down to a photo finish in terms of which party opens its next session in the majority.