Almost two years of speeches, controversy and campaigning culminates tonight in a historic election that will resonate throughout the world.

But then what?

Political Science Prof. Michael Traugott, who predicts Obama will win the popular vote by a landslide, said the first step for either candidate in office would be to evaluate the economy and move forward from there. He said both candidates have focused on improving the economy, but while McCain is likely to focus on tax incentives for small businesses, Obama would emphasize job creation through new industries like alternative energy.

“Most of what is meaningful for students involves their prospects of getting a good job when they graduate, and that’s going to depend on turning the economy around,” Traugott said. “Both are very interested in job creation, but by different processes.”

Of the two, he said McCain is more concerned with foreign policy and Obama’s platform focuses more on domestic issues.

“While John McCain is also interested in domestic policy, he’s more concerned about America’s military role in the world — these activities in Iraq in Afghanistan are very expensive and divert money from domestic programs,” Traugott said.

But while presidential hopefuls discuss the affordability of healthcare, foreign spending and gas prices, students worry about paying for their college education.

According to the College Board, the cost of tuition has increased 27 percent over the last decade. With more and more families hit hard by the nation’s struggling economy, money for college is becoming increasingly hard to come by.

On their websites, both candidates suggest simplifying the application process for federal aid, providing more money for Pell grants and cutting interest rates on loans.

Political Science Prof. Vincent Hutchings said the candidates differ in the amount of federal financial aid they would provide to students.

“The Democrat is more apt to provide some governmental assistance to students for college and that’s probably less of a priority for John McCain,” he said.

The next president will have to decide on whether to support the possible acquisition of Chrysler by General Motors. Yesterday, the Bush administration refused to provide assistance.

Auto companies like GM and Ford have been pressuring the government to provide more emergency funding to the auto industry as part of the bailout package.

“The merger will have a big impact on Michigan because it will involve a consolidation and that’s job losses, usually,” Traugott said.

Hutchings said McCain is less likely than Obama to provide support to local governments.

“Given the economic problems in the state, we could probably use that support,” he said.

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