Gore to be next president, professor predicts

Despite the slight edge of George W. Bush in the polls, a Princeton political scientist predicted at a forum Tuesday that Al Gore will win the presidential election.

Larry Bartels said he -- and most political scientists -- believe Gore will be elected on Nov. 7, mainly because he is an incumbent running in a period of economic growth.

Bartels spoke along with Professor Fred I. Greenstein in a Woodrow Wilson School forum on "The Election and Why it Matters."

The two professors agreed that there are clear, partisan differences between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush, and concluded that these differences will change the course of history through the public policy decisions the next president makes.

The Democrat and the Republican contrast most, Greenstein said, on how they would handle issues related to Supreme Court nominations, taxes, health care, Social Security, the environment, national security, campaign finance and guns.

The "election will make a great deal of difference," Greenstein said, knocking third party candidates and others who try to convince voters that, as George Wallace once said, there is "not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties." For example, he noted that three Supreme Court justices are age 70 or older, and juxtaposed Bush's model of a choice justice, Antonin Scalia, with Gore's, the late Thurgood Marshall.

Bartels asserted that the political process is not broken, as many have said. Contrary to popular belief, he said, voter turnout has been constant -- not declining -- for the past 25 years; voters are much more partisan -- not less -- than 50 years ago; and money, charisma and campaign strategies have only marginal impact.

Instead, he said, Americans generally choose their presidents based on the state of the economy and broad issue stands.

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601