Renowned Presidential Historian avoids 2012 predictionsSeptember 13th, 2012 at 5:31 pm by Jim Shella under Jim Shella's Political Blog
History is often a guide when it comes to predicting the future, but a renowned Presidential historian is reluctant to predict the outcome of the 2012 race based on the past.
Michael Beschloss is in town to speak at a fundraiser for the Benjamin Harrison home. He’s a frequent commentator on PBS and has written 9 books about the Presidency and he talked about parallels between past races and the 2012 campaign.
The recent violence in the Middle East draws comparisons to problems faced by Jimmy Carter during an unsuccessful re-election bid but also to circumstances that George W. Bush confronted in a winning campaign.
“What we’ve seen in the last 48 hours shows how these things can turn on a dime,” says Beschloss. “This was a campaign where earlier this week people were rightfully complaining about the fact that foreign policy was so little mentioned. Now it’s at the center of the struggle and hard to predict whether that’s going to benefit Romney or Obama.”
You can also draw parallels to races run by Presidents during times of high unemployment. Beschloss says only Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt have been successful with unemployment over 8%.
This race, he says, is different from all of the others in one significant way. “We have never had a Presidential campaign with anywhere near this kind of money, over a billion dollars on both sides,” he says, “and that’s one thing that is a question mark because you can’t predict from history what the effect of that will be.”
Beschloss also points out that while Obama is in the lead, John McCain was leading at this stage 4 years ago.