Kentucky presidential historian talks about Friday's transfer of - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky presidential historian talks about Friday's transfer of power

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- President elect-Donald Trump takes the oath of office on Friday, and a local presidential historian said he predicted a Trump win, even when the polls said differently.

Dr. Mark Summers is a history professor and presidential historian at the University of Kentucky. He suspected and predicted Trump would be the next president because of earlier elections, and because the pollsters have been wrong before.

"I like the hoopla," Summers said. "I like the noise and confusion."

Summers' obsession with presidential politics started a long time ago.

"I've been fascinated with politics of all kinds since I was about able to read," he said.

Although he has never met a president, it is his life and first love.

"The closest I've come to a president is standing on a street corner at 9-years old and watching Richard Nixon's motorcade or waving by me in such."

For the last 40 years, Summers has shared his knowledge in the classroom and even on the History Channel.

"The news media particularly was absolutely sure of it," he said.

Summers has studied every presidential election since the founding fathers.

"Most people, I think, really thought that she would win on that night."

Which is why he predicted Hillary Clinton would lose and even told her so.

"I wrote a letter to her over that weekend, because I was afraid she was going to lose," Summers said.

Summers said pollers don't always get it right.

"There have been cases where the pollster have been incredibly, dead wrong," he said. "The most famous is 1948 when Harry Truman runs for a term in his own right against Thomas E. Dewey."

The history professor reminded us of the infamous picture of President Truman holding a premature newspaper headline declaring Dewey the winner.

"Some of the major pollsters, it should be said, stop taking polls at all in late-September, early-October, because they said, 'What's the point? We all know Dewey is going to win.'"

The presidential historian's late father, Dr. Clyde Summers, was a law professor at Yale, which is part of what prompted him to reach out to Mrs. Clinton.

"Ah, Bill Clinton, well, he just kind of mailed it in."

Meanwhile, Dr. Summers' forte is history, and he likes to keep the conversations there.

"I think it's a matter of courtesy," he said.

But he does offer one prediction about Friday's inauguration and the attendance of former presidents and first ladies in spite of any bad blood.

"I think those who are in health and are a part of the system should be there," Summers said. "If only to give some kind of legitimacy to the institution."

Summers also said voters should not expect President-elect Trump to keep all of his campaign promises, but he said that's nothing new.

"Sometimes this is like a fatal wound, because you expect a lot, and you will be disappointed," he said. "Just about every president disappoints his or her followers out there."

Summers also delved into the popular vote won by Hillary Clinton. He said it is not the first time the person with the most votes has lost the presidential election.

"The record holder up until now is either Al Gore or Samuel Tilden," he said.

Despite the outcome, Summers said don't expect the electoral college to go anywhere anytime soon.

"It ain't gonna happen. It can't happen. You might as well say is it time to do away with original sin."

He said to eliminate the electoral college, there has to be an amendment to the Constitution, which is easier said than done.

"If you amend the Constitution, you're going to have to get an overwhelming number of states onboard," Summers said. "And you can bet the states with the small populations aren't going to do something that means they're going to be flyovers from then on."

As for President Obama, Summers says he leaves office with his legacy intact.

"I've seen few presidents that have had this popularity going out of office," he said. "I think he goes out with more visible grace than a lot of them did."

He also said Obama leaves the country in good shape.

"He has left the country in much better shape than a lot of other presidents left the country."

Summers gives a few examples of when that was not the case, in his opinion.

"We're not in a state of crisis the way we were when Lyndon Johnson left office," he said. "We're not in a state of such trauma as we were when Jimmy Carter left office in 1981."

Summers suspects everyone will have an opinion about President elect-Trump, but he says history will be the final judge.

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