MARCH 6, 2000

CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456; mstepanovich@csub.edu


Ault provides election analysis


A California State University, Bakersfield political scientist sees a runoff for Kern County's 5th Supervisorial district race, and a make-or-break Tuesday for presidential candidate John McCain.

Michael Ault, professor of political science at CSUB, said the heated 5th District supervisors race appears headed for a possible runoff between incumbent Ken Peterson and challenger Cathy Palla. He said his analysis indicated candidates Delfino Niera and Michael White probably won't fare well

As for the presidential campaign, he said "It's do or die for John McCain. He needs a victory in California or New York ... to regain his momentum."

Even though he doesn't see McCain winning the delegate vote in California, Ault said McCain needed to win the popular vote. "At least he can introduce the debate in California, and legitimize his campaign. Or maybe it's better to say delegitimize the George W. Bush campaign."

The two Republicans' campaign strategies intrigue Ault, a native Californian who is in his first year at CSUB. "McCain is running a general election strategy aimed at moderates and independents. That he would alienate party loyalists with his remarks about the Christian right wing is interesting.

"Bush on the other hand is running a traditional primary strategy. He worked on the moderates and independents for a year and a half portraying himself as a compassionate conservative. Now he's moving to the right to pick up the party loyalists. Then, if he gets the nomination, he can move back to the center. Unfortunately, I think he stumbled over his own feet in his move right, but he seems to have recovered recently.

"McCain has to win," he continued, "but how to win? He's strongest when he stays on message. It's his virtue and his vice. People perceive he's a straight talker. The vice is his off the cuff comments sometimes go too far."

Ault's specialty is American politics, the presidency, and by extension presidential political behavior. Originally from Upland, he earned his bachelor's degree in political science and economics from California State University, San Bernardino. He earned his master's degree from the University of Dallas, and his doctorate from the University of North Texas in American politics.

He taught at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts for a year before accepting the position at CSUB.