Summary of today’s show: It’s finally Election Day and Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor welcome Michael Lavigne and David Harris—a former Senate staffer turned seminarian—to discuss today’s election, their experiences at the polls, and their predictions for the presidential election, the Mass. Senate race, ballot question 2, and other public policy issues and political offices in play today. Will our panel of pundits’ predictions hold up to the actual polls?
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Michael Lavigne and David Harris
Links from today’s show:
- Archbishop Charles Chaput, “Public witness and Catholic citizenship”
- George Weigel, Campaign 2012 — What kind of country do you want?
Today’s topics: Election Day Special
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to Election Day and he said he’s been looking forward to this day, especially given his work on the assisted suicide question. Fr. Chris O’Connor said he’s locking himself down by going to Norfolk State Prison to minister to the convicts. He voted this morning near his home in Winthrop. Scot said he’s heard many reports from the polls from people who saw people holding up No on 2 signs. It’s a moving testimony to people having got the message on assisted suicide.
Scot said the Church hasn’t educated on a public policy issue in decades like she has on Question 2. Fr. Chris said he’s glad the Church has been such a strong articulate voice on this question. Fr. Chris related how he heard one Libertarian radio show host said he changed his mind on Question 2 after hearing the ads and other information about the issue. Scot said Cardinal Seán first spoke on assisted suicide 14 months ago and the Boston Globe blasted him for it, but now the Globe editorial board has come out on the same side as the Cardinal.
Fr. Chris said his eight-year-old nephew Noah dressed as Mitt Romney for Halloween this year and gave his biggest endorsement to the former governor. He said some of the eight-year-old’s comments on all three debates have been at least as edifying as the comments heard from the pundits on MSNBC.
2nd segment: Scot said tomorrow’s show will reflect on what happened today. Scot welcomed our guests Michael Lavigne and David Harris, who’s a seminarian with experience in political campaigns. Michael said he’s voting tonight in his new home of Taunton. David said he’s a resident of New Hampshire and voted via absentee ballot. Scot said David worked in politics before entering the seminary. David credited his very liberal roommates at Providence College for his interest in politics and getting involved. He went to Washington and worked for Sen. John Sununu from New Hampshire. He also did some campaigning and then after worked in the private sector doing some issue political campaigning. Scot asked his sense of how the election might go in New Hampshire. David said he didn’t know a single person in New Hampshire who isn’t voting, and he thinks Romney has a shot.
David said New Hampshire voters have been pragmatic and have wanted ideas that work and seeing the last four years they might see Mitt Romney as a problem solver.
Scot said he was at his polling place in Belmont by 7am and was about 35th in line. He can’t remember it ever being that deep in his 11 years. His 6-year-old son Dominic accompanied him and was talking up the people in line about Question 2. Scot said there’s not a lot that usually happens in Belmont, but about 8:35am Mitt and Ann Romney came to vote in Belmont. His sense was the about 400 or 500 residents were there and nearly an equal number of media people. Unfortunately, there were no Vote No on 2 signs and he had given away his last one. Fr. Chris added that the Brown and Warren Senate race is also neck and neck and the national media are watching that.
Scot said Michael has lived in Rhode Island and Maine, so what does think about the way Massachusetts does it. Michael said the big difference is that in this Senate race your vote matters, but in Rhode Island it’s mostly landslides for the Democrat. He said in Maine three years ago they had a ballot on same-sex marriage like we have on Question 2. He’s hoping that the experience in Maine is replicated where polling said same-sex marriage would win by 2 points but traditional marriage won by 7.
Scot asked David about his opinion of the polls that show the dead heat in Question 2. David said when he was campaigning he worked on the ground and they mostly ignored them in order to not get distracted. But polling can matter, especially in the past few weeks as the polls showed some states coming into play for Romney. Good polling is valuable, but it’s not an exact science. There’s a reason we actually cast a vote and don’t let polls choose our leaders.
Scot referred to a poll from a TV station in Western Massachusetts on Question 2 that broke down by religious background. Of those who are regular Mass attendees, more than 70% will vote No, while those who go to Mass once per month or less supported Question 2 at about 49%. There were similar numbers for Protestants.While those who are agnostic or atheist, 90% supported it. Fr. Chris said this is clear evidence that the Church speaks clearly on the value of life at all stages. He read a quote from a recent George Weigel column that said the inalienable right to life and the nature of marriage have to be upheld by Catholics at the polls.
Scot said it’s been awkward for him in the election to see how the leaders of one party and its party platform have treated the Catholic leadership and Catholic belief in contempt. He said he’s not trying to be partisan. HE referred to Archbishop Chaput who said the Democratic Party platform has drifted from alignment with Catholic beliefs because Catholics haven’t fought for it in the platform. While Republicans aren’t guaranteed not to go the same way, it’s hard today as a Catholic not to be troubled by the Democratic Party platform.
David said as a Christian you want try to be pastoral and loving, but at the same time you have to defend the truth and support what the Church teaches. He’s been learning to mercifully tell the truth to those who still support the Democratic Party. He said Cardinal Seán has outlined for everyone in this archdiocese how we need to vote if we want to be Catholic, what principles we have to live by and vote by. Fr. Chris said we don’t just vote the party. The characters of political parties change over time. We have a sacred duty in the voting booth that we’re not only voting for ourselves, but for the common good. We should never outsource this ability who’s going to lead out country.
Scot said Archbishop Chaput also said it’s a sacred duty to be able to vote and we need to be a Catholic before we’re a Democrat or Republican or even American. Michael said he’s had friends try to pigeonhole him as Republican or Democrat, but he’s a Catholic who stands up and takes seriously his responsibility as a Catholic. To be Catholic is to not completely agree with either party’s platform, but there are some issues which stand above the others, which the bishops pointed out are defense of human life and traditional marriage.
David pointed out a story on Drudge Report how Vice President Joe Biden said if he loses today, he’ll go back home to run for county commissioner. Scot said he finds Biden likable, while Fr. Chris said he found him to be rude in the vice presidential debate. But Scot said he liked how Biden is just himself, like in his first press conference when introduced as VP running mate when he took time to compliment his wife’s looks. Michael said he likes to remember that these are human beings running for office and their human dignity. Fr. Chris said he particularly liked the moment after one of the debates when Mitt Romney’s grandson went up to President Obama and shake his hand.
3rd segment: Scot said today is an historic day in the US where we either elect a new president or re-elect a president. Scot said it’s fun to predict what will happen. He asked Michael for his prediction.
Michael said while no one really knows, he said writer Peggy Noonan has said there’s a palpable sense that things are going Romney’s way. He thinks that ROmney will win both electoral college and popular vote. Popular vote will be 52% for Romney he thinks and it will be decided at 12:30AM.
He asked David his prediction. David said he agreed that Peggy Noonan was right. He agreed that Romney will win with 50% of the popular vote and will be decided by midnight. He agreed with Karl Rove’s estimate of 289 electoral college votes. He thinks the governorship and Congressional seats will go Democrat. Scot said he’s disappointed that Republican Ovid Lamontaigne isn’t likely to win because he’s a good Catholic.
Fr. Chris predicts Romney will win with 305 electoral college votes and before he finishes his ricotta pie at 11:30pm. He thinks Ohio will be the decider. He’s really concerned with Ohio and it’s the bellwether. Romney hadn’t been getting the ground in Ohio in recent weeks, but finally there’s a sense of momentum behind Romney now.
Scot asked what they make of Romney campaigning today in Ohio and Pennsylvania while Obama hangs out in Chicago. Some think it’s a good idea on Romney’s part while others think Romney is keeping campaign workers from getting out the vote. Fr. Chris said it’s a sign that Romney has brought Ohio and Pennsylvania back into play. He cited Rush Limbaugh who said he thinks there’s a momentum behind Romney.
Scot said he thinks Romney will get 276 electoral college and only 49% of the vote to Obama’s 48%. He doesn’t think we’ll officially know until November 17. Tomorrow we’ll hear the projections, but four or five states will have an automatic recount with several weeks to sort it all out. Fr. Chris said he’ll need another ricotta pie.
Turning to the Senate race, he asked Michael’s prediction. Michael said he thinks Brown will eke out a narrow victory against Warren. 50 to 48. David agrees it will be super-close and he thinks Brown will win because of the Catholics coming out to Vote No on 2. He predicted Brown 49 to 48 percent. They discussed whether there will be a recount and David predicted not. Fr. Chris said he’s nervous. He heard on the radio today that so many Democrats coming out for Obama will push it to Warren. Scot predicted she will win by 3 or 4 points. Scot said you have to measure the street signs and the enthusiasm, and he’s seen a lot of enthusiasm for Warren has been higher and he’s seen yard signs for Warren to Brown at a 20 to 1 ratio. He said he saw Elizabeth Warren banners on nearly every overpass on Route 128 coming down from Belmont to Braintree today. His sense is that the large statewide Democratic infrastructure is back in play in support of Warren.
Fr. Chris said the 2010 election was not a general election, but a sort of surprise in January and it aided Brown in winning that race. He added he had a friend out on the Southeast Expressway with Romney and Brown signs getting a lot of positive response.
On the issue of Question 2, Scot asked Michael his prediction. He said he compared it to the same-sex marriage question in Maine in 2009 and predicted the same outcome as 52-45. David said he thinks Question 2 will be defeated. Fr. Chris agreed. Scot made it unanimous as 52-46. Scot said the tide turned on Question 2 in recent weeks as most of the major newspapers endorsed a No on 2 position and there have been almost no visibility for Yes on 2 questions. He thinks the word-of-mouth and passion will carry the day. He said the hope is that people will walk into the ballot box knowing question 2 is the assisted suicide question and decided to vote No, but if not people will be deterred by the dense language on the ballot and vote No or abstain.
On other issues, Fr. Chris said he wonders how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might have helped the president or hurt him after meeting with him after Hurricane Sandy. He said most polls show the Senate will stay with the Democrats and the Republicans will gain seats in the House. He thinks that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
David said RealClearPolitics.com has an aggregate poll that shows the difference between four years ago and today, where Obama has so much less of an advantage.
Michael said he’s looking at the referendums on marriage in four states where it’s so tight in all those states.
Scot said he’ll be looking at how Catholics are voting, given his activity in education on Question 2. He hopes Catholic votes start to look different from everyone else’s because we’re called to be leaven in society and not just to go along.