Rarely has a presidential race been so hard to call, said David Gergen ’67, during a talk on Oct. 26 at Harvard Law School Fall Reunions. A former adviser to four presidents, a regular contributor to CNN, and a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, Gergen put the race between fellow HLS graduates Mitt Romney ’75 and President Barack Obama ’91 in historical perspective, analyzed its development, talked about its import—and made some predictions.
Gergen broke the campaign into three stages: The first started “before all the fisticuffs,” when observations on the state of the economy, including studies using economic and political forecasting models which have successfully predicted many past elections, indicated that Obama was going to lose, and in fact be a “45 percent candidate.”
The second stage started, he said, in October 2011 as the campaign got under way, “President Obama forged into the lead and defied expectations and remained steadily in the lead against all comers, including Mitt Romney, for an entire year.” Why was that, Gergen asked? “Simply put, it was that the Obama campaign was a better run campaign.
“That was stage 2. It all ended on October 3 at 9:00 at night.” That first presidential debate changed everything, said Gergen, “and turned this into a real horserace. I don’t know what happened with either side.”
Read more about Gergen’s take on the Presidential race on the Harvard Law School website.