On Thursday, the Association of Bowdoin Friends and members of the Bowdoin community gathered in Moulton Union for the fourth event in their community lecture series. The guest speaker was Professor of Government Andrew Rudalevige who gave a talk entitled “The State of the Union: Trends and Tremors in American Politics.”
The topic was chosen in anticipation of the State of the Union Address on February 7 and included discussions on topics such as the 2022 midterm elections, the 2023 speakers battle, recent Supreme Court cases and predictions for the 2024 election.
In discussing the midterm results, Rudalevige reflected on the close Senate race in Georgia and the gubernatorial race in Arizona. He remarked on the incredible accuracy of polling data in predicting midterms results.
“In 2022 the [percentage point bias] was a tiny amount, less than a percentage point,” Rudalevige said. “What that suggests is the polls were actually pretty good in 2022.”
Rudalevige went on to discuss this year’s unusually contentious election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“It took 15 ballots for [McCarthy] to be elected [which was] the first time in a hundred years that [the vote] required more than one ballot,” Rudalevige said.
The lecture ended with a prediction of political outcomes for the remainder of 2023 as well as possibilities for the 2024 election cycle. His forecast included shifts in President Biden’s cabinet, potential cases for the Supreme Court, possible presidential candidates and a brief overview of what to expect for the senate elections in 2024.
Installments of the Community Lecture Series occur on the first Thursday of every month, and the Association of Bowdoin Friends has over 1,200 members whose ties to the College range from alumni to Brunswick neighbors. Membership and events are open to all. While turnout typically ranges from 40 to 80, interest in Rudalevige’s talk brought the number up to about 100.
Community member Merna Guttentag noted that this was her first event with the association, and she appreciated Rudalevige’s accessible and comprehensive delivery of complex ideas.
“[Rudalevige] pulled together things that we sort of knew in a concise, articulated and knowledgeable way,” Guttentag said. “I thought that was very useful.”
Communications and Public Affairs Administrative Coordinator Sara Smith was excited by the above average number of attendants at the talk. Smith has been managing the program for 19 years and works alongside a committee in choosing the monthly speaker.
“I’m pretty blown away by the turnout today,” Smith said. “I think the group is really excited to be here.”
This academic year there will be six total events, with three already having occurred this fall. On March 2, the association will welcome Director of the Bowdoin Orchestra George Lopez. Guttentag is looking forward to attending more events with the association and eagerly looks forward to next month’s lecture.
“We thought we were early but the room was already filled, and we barely got seats,” Guttentag said. “We were thrilled to be here.”