Wendy Schiller discusses presidential politics at The Miriam Hospital Women’s Association event

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Removing the mic from its stand in a conference room at The Miriam Hospital, Wendy Schiller walked around the stage as she said, “I have no idea who in this audience is a Trump fan or who is a Clinton fan, so I’m going to speak as freely as possible.”

For the next 90 minutes, at an event on Sept. 21 sponsored by The Miriam Hospital Women’s Association, Schiller offered her political insights into the November election. 

Schiller, who is chairwoman of the political science department at Brown University and a frequent TV commentator, said the much-anticipated presidential debates will not sway many voters.

“The debates are going to be highly engaging, but they’re not going to matter,” she said, noting that President Barack Obama didn’t do very well in his first debate, then did a little better, and then did great, but still remained neck and neck with Mitt Romney in the polls.

Hillary Clinton will do “really well,” in the debates, she said, while Donald Trump will do “moderately okay.” But, ultimately, she said, the media will say that Trump won.

Schiller presented many statistics from campaigns past and current, including that the demographic with the highest turnout on voting day is black women, at 70.5 percent. 

She discussed almost every minority group and how much of that minority’s vote each candidate would need to succeed. She said the notion that millennials could swing the election is misguided.

Schiller also addressed the prediction that 15 percent of Republicans might cross the floor to vote for Clinton.

“This is American politics. People are partisan. And people who are partisan will typically stay with their party,” Schiller said. “I think they will stay home or they will vote for everything else” – such as the Senate and the House candidates  – “just not the presidential race.”

Schiller said a positive if Trump should win is that his “race rhetoric … might wake America up more.” She said a negative that a President Clinton could face is an oppositional Republican House, and then “we can count on gridlock.”

Schiller concluded with a final, comforting thought: “I know this from American history: the republic will stand.”

Before Schiller spoke, the evening started with a buffet and an opportunity to view an extensive collection of election campaign buttons dating back to the mid-1800s. The collection is owned by former Miriam employee Sheila Roulston. 

ARIEL BROTHMAN is a freelance writer who lives in Wrentham, Massachusetts.