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Four faculty members from Old Dominion University's political science department will give a panel discussion titled "The Race for the Presidency: The 2008 Primary Season" at 12:15 p.m. today in 1005 Constant Hall. The hourlong event is open to the public.

The panelists include Associate Professor Michael Clemons, Assistant Professor Jesse Richman, Professor Glen Sussman and Visiting Assistant Professor Corliss A. Tacosa.

Sussman, who teaches courses on American politics and conducts research on the American presidency, environmental politics and policy, and political behavior, will address the Republican race between John McCain and Mike Huckabee and also serve as moderator for the discussion.

"While McCain has more delegates, Huckabee has shown strength in a number of states, especially in the South where he appeals to social conservatives who are uncomfortable with McCain," Sussman said. "Meanwhile, McCain will emphasize national security and the war on terror and his ability to protect the country."

Richman, who teaches courses on research methods, political thought and legislative politics, and conducts research on voting, legislative politics and public policy, will compare how the Democratic and Republican primaries are structured.

"The Republicans have very nearly chosen a candidate, and the Democrats remain deadlocked," Richman said. "More than anything else, this reflects the impact of the different rules each party favors for selecting convention delegates. The winner-take-all format of many Republican primaries allowed John McCain to build up a huge delegate lead while his rivals divided more votes than McCain won. For Romney, second place in California meant zero delegates.

"By contrast, the proportional allocation of most Democratic delegates has helped prolong the Democratic contest. For Obama, second place in California netted 163 delegates. For better or worse, the Republicans' rules rapidly force out candidates who run strong second-place campaigns, while the Democrats' rules help second-place candidates carry on to fight another day."

Clemons, whose doctoral research focused on American politics and international affairs with an emphasis on the domestic and global political behavior of African Americans, will comment on the Democratic primary with consideration of Sen. Barack Obama in particular and the effect of race on the primary.

"The 2008 Democratic primary campaign is a challenging and historic contest and whether or not the party can rise to the occasion is the bottom-line question," Clemons said. "The adeptness of the party in dealing with the volatile issues of race and gender is among the decisive factors in whether the Democrats can win the U.S. presidency."

Tacosa, who has taught courses on American government, including Congress, state and local government and women and politics, will comment on the role of Sen. Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

"American women finally have one of their own as a viable Presidential candidate," Tacosa said. "It was long in coming, but it opens the doors in the future for more participation of women in the higher echelon positions in American government."


This article was posted on: February 18, 2008

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