Locust Walk Talk: A Tale of Two Cities – Dick Polman and the Election

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

As Dickens’s tale of London and Paris was set along a backdrop of political upheaval, our tour with Dick Polman was set against the political grumblings in the US.  With only a few weeks before the election and sandwiching the last president debate, Dick visited the UK and France to meet with our Penn alumni and friends to talk about who would win the election.

“Who Will Win… & Why?”

You’ll have to take this with a grain of salt since I’m reporting after the election, but I do have over 60 alumni and friends in the UK and France who will vouch for me. Dick analyzed the first two debates (and by Paris the third) and concluded that this upcoming election has many very similar characteristics to Bush W’s re-election against Kerry: a match up with an incumbent President with lowering approval ratings against a Massachusetts politician who is portrayed as an elitist and as out of touch with the American public.  Therefore he was willing to make the prediction that Obama would win, but he wouldn’t win the popular vote with as large of a margin as the first time.

Dick focused his discussion about the importance of the swing states.  The candidates’ battle for Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and even New Hampshire was telling about the newer nature of campaigning. In contract, Nixon campaigned in all states when he ran and now for our two candidates of 2012 it was all an all-out assault on Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Penn Alumni enjoying cocktails before the discussion.

The meat of the conversation was the questions from the audience.  While I was at the events, I tried, in 140 characters or less, to tweet some of the questions and some pictures from the evening to share with the Penn Alumni world at large.

If you are interested in getting updates from events that I attended, please feel free to follow me at  While I was running the logistics for the event, I was able to send off a few tweets about the conversation.  Please note that my commentary in italics are from my recollection and only represent my memory of the event and not necessarily that actual comments of Dick Polman.

The Shard (a.k.a. the London Bridge Tower)


Oct 22, 7:51pm: In #London with @Pennalumni in the UK for Dick Polman talking about the presidential race #GOP #DEM

Oct 22, 8:22pm: Question to Dick Polman from @Pennalumni Would the #GOP position on #immigration make #Texas & #Arizona go Purple? #DEM

(DP addressed that the urban centers in Texas and Arizona definitely vote Democratic but they are small population centers relative to the exurbs and rural areas)

Parliament at night

Oct 22, 8:50pm: Question to Dick Polman from @Pennalumni Since you like to predict; who will win in 2016? (DP says Obama in 2012) #GOP #DEM

(DP declined to make a prediction that far in advance, but offered to return to Europe in 4 years to answer that question.)

Oct 22, 8:36pm: Question to Dick Polman from @Pennalumni Will issues like abortion & healthcare still be on the table in 2016? #GOP #DEM

(DP believes that the policies on abortion and healthcare will not be charged by Congress in the future, so they may still be used as part of the political platform but they will not really be effectively altered in the next few years.)

The Palais du Tokyo in the 16e arrondissement


Oct 23, 6:57pm: reminds those @Pennalumni in London and Paris (and beyond) to visit Dick Polman’s blog

Oct 23, 7:04pm: In #Paris with @Pennalumni & Polman explains why incumbents don’t do well in their 1st debate. It’s their day job #GOP #DEM

Oct 23, 7:36pm: Question to Dick Polman from @Pennalumni What are #GOP voters in CA & #DEM voters in TX do due to the Electoral College?

(DP shared with the crowd the many movements that have tried to abolish the Electoral College, but in short many of the small states (in terms of population) wouldn’t favor losing their 3 votes and those movements probably will never pass.)

A detail of la Tour Eiffel at night

Oct 23, 7:42pm: Question to Dick Polman from @Pennalumni With the debates over what’s the game changer in the 2 weeks until the election? #GOP #DEM

(DP couldn’t specify what any game changer would be, but anything could come up and shadow the election.)

In the few hours that I had free, I was able to get some shots of London and Paris to add to this entry for your viewing pleasure.


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