David Schultz sizes up political race

David Schultz sizes up political race
Jonathan Cohen
David Schultz '80, MA '86, is a source for political journalists.

As we approach Election Day, you’ll probably see a Binghamton alumnus getting face time on national news programs. He’s not a politician, campaign manager or newscaster; instead, he’s one of the nation’s most sought-after political researchers.

David Schultz ’80, MA ’86, professor at Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn., is often quoted in stories about elections, campaigns and the political process. In 2000, when the Bush-Gore presidential election was mired in a recount, he appeared on more than 500 TV programs.

He visited campus in the spring to meet with students and to speak at the Binghamton University Forum, offering thoughts on this year’s presidential election.

“Barack Obama had a brilliant narrative in 2008. It was all about change,” Schultz says. “In 2010, the midterm election was a referendum on the presidency, and there was no narrative. The undertone was, ‘it could have been worse,’ and that doesn’t get anyone excited. In 2012, what’s his narrative? Now, the Republicans can say, ‘change.’”

Schultz says both sides will need to tap into voter discontent, hoping it will get voters to the polls instead of checking out altogether. He expects turnout for this year’s election to be a little lower, after slightly ticking up past 60 percent in the past two presidential contests.

“It’s over in 40 states. Ten states with 10 percent of the population will decide the election,” Schultz says. “Obama has to figure out how to get white working-class Americans to vote for him. [Republican Mitt] Romney doesn’t bond with these voters at all.”

In his forthcoming book, American Politics in an Age of Ignorance (Macmillan, 2012), Schultz will point out some of the ineffective yet recycled public policies that have caused voters to become disengaged.  

“Minnesota probably spent $500 million in subsidies for a Vikings football stadium,” Schultz says. “There is overwhelming social science evidence that one of the worst ways to stimulate the economy is to pump money into a stadium. Why do these stupid ideas keep getting recycled?”