Emory Report
February 4, 2008
Volume 60, Number 18

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February 4, 2008
Alumni chew over primaries’ prospects

By eric rangus

Still undecided. That’s what the Feb. 5 Republican primary in Georgia looks like. The Democratic primary winner is a bit easier to predict.

“Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will win easily,” said Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, adding that the national picture for the Democrats is a bit more muddled.

For close followers of Georgia politics, the points above were not exactly shocking. But the rest of the Jan. 31 panel discussion, “Insight Into the 2008 Presidential Primaries,” which featured Abramowitz and a pair of politically well-connected alumni, was packed with many tasty nuggets for political junkies to gnaw on.

The event, sponsored by the Emory Alumni Association, drew more than 55 attendees, and registration filled up a mere two hours after the first invitations were sent out in early January. The alumni panelists were Eric Tanenblatt ’88C, Georgia state chairman for President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, and a supporter of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and Gordon Giffin ’77L, Bill Clinton’s Georgia campaign chairman in 1992, and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The banter between the alumni panelists — both attorneys with the downtown Atlanta firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, which hosted the event — was jovial even though they agreed on next to nothing, save one point.
“I think people are fed up with the partisanship in this country,” Giffin said, with Tanenblatt nodding silently in agreement. A few minutes later, though, it was Abramowitz who threw in a wrench.

“Partisanship and polarization generate interest, and that’s a good thing,” he said, noting that more Americans voted in the 2004 presidential election — one of the most rancorous in history — than ever.
“There are huge ideological differences between the parties,” Abramowitz continued. “The candidates are running for president of two different countries. You can’t get past that with a lot of sweet talk.”