By: Marissa Guercio
As many worldwide stood in front of their televisions on Election Night waiting to see who would be named the next president of the United States of America, Dr. Lee Miringoff watched from a different vantage point.
“I was the last person to speak on NBC before Brian Williams announced that Barack Obama was the winner,” Miringoff said.
On Wednesday night, Miringoff was one of two noted experts who participated in community discussion called “Understanding the 2008 Elections.” The lecture was sponsored by Marist College and The June and Aaron Gillespie Forum.
The director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) spoke about the role MIPO had in the election and analyzed the reasons for President-elect Barack Obama’s victory.
“People had a lot to say and wanted their views heard,” Miringoff said.
Since Labor Day, Miringoff and his team of 200 student workers have conducted 29 press polls.
“We found out that there was a huge desire for change,” Miringoff said. “People really thought whoever won mattered.”
Miringoff said that the defining moment in the campaign came in September when the economy began to collapse. Sen. John McCain suspended his campaign, went to Washington D.C. to try and solve the problem and threatened to postpone the debate that the electorate wanted to hear. In contrast, the Obama campaign stayed on target with its original economic plan.
“The McCain campaign focused more on not voting for Obama instead of why to vote for McCain,” said the MIPO director.
Although many other factors contributed to Obama’s success, Miringoff said his use of technology and social networking really helped him, since it hadn’t been used in the past.
“He was gaff-proof,” Miringoff said of Obama’s unconventional techniques.
Miringoff also spoke about Obama’s success with young people. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the turnout for young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 rose by at least 2.2 million from 2004’s election. In addition, exit polls showed that young voters preferred Obama over McCain in a margin of two to one.
“He carried young voters in record breaking fashion, Miringoff said. “There was a re-energizing of our politics.”