MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki Talks Politics on Campus

After the excitement of the second presidential debate and heightened anticipation of the third debate, the University’s Polling Center hosted a conversation with Steve Kornacki, the current MSNBC “The Cycle” host, last Thursday to discuss debate manners between the two candidates and hypothetical voting scenarios on Election Day.

Patrick Murray, Director the University’s Polling Center, opened up the conversation to over 100 students, faculty and staff about how the first presidential debate change the forecast of the dynamics of the race and asked Kornacki if President Barack Obama wants to be the president for another four years after his first debate performance.

Kornacki discussed how he watched Obama in 2008 and said how he did not believe that there was a single debate where he believed that Obama had won. “I remember the three fall debates with John McCain, and I think Obama was serviceable, the election by that point was basically his to lose. McCain is not the most charismatic communicator. Obama was fine, but certainly not dazzling.”

“I don’t think [Obama] is a very good debater, so my expectations for his performance weren’t that high for Denver. I think Romney, especially as of a month ago, was underrated as a communication – specifically as a communicator of scripted messages. They can give him a script ahead of time, a bunch of data points to tick off [and] a bunch of anecdotes to lean on and he can really deliver is with confidence and assertiveness,” Kornacki continued.

Murray commented on how Obama is not going to win in a landslide like Reagan in 1984, and asked Kornacki if he believed that the second debate turned the tide backward.

“I’ll give you a really firm answer here, I don’t know,” Kornacki said.

Graduated from Boston University, Kornacki is also a senior political writer for He previously served as a co-host for New 12 New Jersey’sPolitickerNJand reported for “Roll Call” on the United States Congress.

Kornacki’s works have also been published inThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Observer, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Boston GlobeandThe Daily Beast.

Kornacki discussed what had happened in the last few weeks. “If your view of this race is that the economy is not doing well and swing voters are inclined to throw President Obama out. They’re basically looking for an excuse to vote him out.” Kornacki then drew similar parallels between former Presidents George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Jimmy Carter in 1980.

There is a very basic threshold that the challenger has to meet if voters are trying to throw out Obama. The challenger has to be “competent, reassuring and not someone who is associated with really inflammatory positions or inflammatory rhetoric,” Kornacki said. The argument can be made that Republican candidate Mitt Romney did not meet that basic threshold until the first debate.

The other situation that Kornacki elaborated on was how the average undecided voter is most likely to reelect Obama. “They like him personally. They understand the very unique historical situation that he walked into as President [and] they understand that the other party was more responsible and is for that mess,” said Kornacki.

Murray also brought up the idea of a Romney presidency and what the country could expect. Kornacki discussed how the Romney presidency would be extremely conservative and about the Republican Party. He went on to discuss the Republican Party’s response to Obama’s presidency and what the Republican’s do when Democrats win elections.

Kornacki also talked about polling in this election and what scenarios could take place. Romney has to have Florida, Virginia and Colorado. “He may not take any of those states, but to have a chance, he has to win those,” Kornacki said.

Nick Dolphin, junior public relations major, attended the event and found the entire conversation relevant for students. “I found it very interesting. I’m liberal, so the topics he discussed were definitely things on my agenda and I felt that [Kornacki] talked about factual things rather than his opinion.”

“I’m really interested in what the polls say between now and Monday night, if there’s movement back towards Obama’s direction. I don’t think we’ve seen enough right now to tell us anything, but I’m really curious what that’s going to show,” Kornacki said.

The Polling Center also held a conversation with Monica Crowley, an American Republican radio and television commentator, earlier in October to give students, faculty and staff views of both major political parties.

Dolphin enjoyed Kornacki’s discussion. He said, “[Kornacki] was well informed, talked about relative topics and answered the audience’s questions completely and respectfully.”