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Professor to appear on WFLA on election night

Government and international affairs professor Edwin Benton will appear on TV on election night for the first time since the 1980s. 

Those who tune in to WFLA on Election Day may see a familiar face: USF professor Edwin Benton.

The government and international affairs professor will appear with Keith Cate, anchor of WFLA, to provide coverage and analysis of the presidential election as it draws to a close.

Benton has covered both midterm and presidential elections on WFLA Radio for the past 20 years, But this will be his first “Election Night” TV appearance since the 1980s.

“I figured it was a good opportunity to do something with a different medium: TV instead of radio,” he said.

Benton said that the main talking topics of the evening will include the presidential election and the congressional race.

“After all, the President will have to work closely with Congress to pass legislation,” Benton said.

He has also paid close attention to the gubernatorial races this election cycle and plans to discuss them during Tuesday’s broadcast. While he said that the results of these elections might not necessarily reflect the incoming results of other elections, they are still an informative look into the way government operates.

Most of the states have Republican governors, which has only worsened the “gridlock” in Washington while a Democratic president is in office, according to Benton.

Additionally, Benton said he would like to focus on amendments to the Florida Constitution on air. He said that there has been a lot of attention paid to them this election because voters are unclear as to what aspects of the constitution would actually be affected by the changes.

“The wording is convoluted, and intentionally so, in order to mislead the voter,” he said.

Benton would also like to discuss the potential aftermath of the election and what the country will look like after things have settled in Washington.

“(There is) extreme polarization in Washington,” he said. “Will that continue? Will that change?”

Benton allowed six students from his Political Behavior, Public Opinion, and Elections class (POS 4204) to volunteer to accompany him to WFLA. The students will be behind-the-scenes, fact-checking and gaining experience in broadcast news.

“It’s going to be a great experience for them,” he said. 

Overall, Benton is unsure of the results of this election.

“With all the noise, we’re going to be in for some surprises and controversy like we’ve never seen before,” he said.

Benton said he saw this election as a circus and expects nothing less once the results are officially announced. However, he hopes that Americans and the losing candidate are able to accept the results with dignity.

“In all this turmoil, we’re still going to be the same country, the same voters, the same leaders who are willing to say ‘I don’t like the results or the outcome,’” he said. “But in the meantime, we’re going to support our (government) and we’re going to support America and all the freedom that people enjoy. That is going to be perhaps the biggest test (of the election).”