Professor Melissa R. Michelson Covers Who Will Win on Election Night TV


On Election Night, Menlo College Professor of Political Science Melissa R. Michelson will provide live commentary on the results on Peninsula Television’s “The Game,” hosted by Mark Simon and Kevin Mullin.

Michelson has been teaching students about elections for over 20 years. “It’s hard to keep in mind the historical lessons, but they’re out there,” says Michelson. “The lessons of 1860, of 1974, and of course there’s always the 2000 Bush-Gore contest.”

Michelson noted that the last time the validity of the results in an election were seriously contested, in 1860, the nation quickly divided into Civil War. In 1974, as President Nixon was facing likely impeachment, members of the Republican Party had to carefully maneuver how to distance themselves from their president while not alienating Republican voters. And in 2000, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush, which precipitated a 36-day struggle for the presidency that was finally ended by the Supreme Court. For those seeking perspective on what the results on November 8 will mean, Michelson recommends that folks look back at those earlier contests, to use the past as a guide to the future.

Michelson says, “At this point it is clear that Trump does not have a realistic path to the presidency.” Instead, she and her students have turned their attention to what will happen in contested Senate races, and whether the Democrats will win back control of the chamber. There are also House races to watch that may be affected by Clinton’s coattails (and Trump’s negative coattails). And, of course, in California there are 17 statewide ballot initiatives.

“One drawback of the public’s fascination with Trump is that very little attention has been paid to the propositions,” Michelson said. “Now it’s time to vote, and everyone is frantically trying to figure out what they all mean.”

This year’s official voter information guide from the California Secretary of State is 224 pages long, including descriptions and arguments for and against the 17 propositions, as well as information about top financial contributors and the U.S. Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez.

Across the country, students in political science classes are learning about the Electoral College, swing states, and the power of get-out-the-vote efforts. While interest in voting behavior spikes every four years to coincide with the presidential election, student (and public) interest this year is off the charts.

What happens if the popular vote doesn’t pick the same winner? And (although fewer people are asking in these final days, as the result seems less uncertain) who will win?