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UC Davis experts available to comment on the general election

November 5, 2012

The following UC Davis experts can talk about issues related to the 2012 general election, from the presidential race to tax policy.


Election reform, voter laws, national popular vote

With a potentially close presidential election, a number of political analysts and pollsters say it is possible that Republican challenger Mitt Romney could win the national popular vote against President Barack Obama, but lose in the electoral college, throwing the nation into a similar situation as the 2000 Bush-Gore race. Vikram Amar, associate dean and professor of law, can discuss the national popular vote and constitutional issues relevant to the election. (See his Justia.com column from Oct. 26.) He can also address voter laws and their effects on particular blocs of voters. Contact: Vikram Amar, School of Law, (530) 752-8808, (925) 858-8855 (cell), vdamar@ucdavis.edu.

Who votes? Voter representation trends among Latinos, Asians, youth

Mindy Romero is a political sociologist and project director of the California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis. The project is a data resource and research initiative for the state of California. A key focus is to identify ethnic and geographic disparities in voting. The project recently released the first two in a series of policy briefs examining registration and election trends for California. Romero also can analyze current online registration data broken down by age, party affiliation and other demographics. News release on her study on ethnic vote patterns. More information on her study on the youth vote. Contact: Mindy Romero, project director, California Civic Engagement Project, (530) 665-3010, msromero@ucdavis.edu.

Parties and campaigns

Ed Costantini, professor emeritus of political science, has specialized in political parties, polling, public opinion, elections and nominations, and California politics. Contact: Edmond Costantini, Political Science, (530) 756-2009 (home), egcostantini@ucdavis.edu.

History of electoral politics

Eric Rauchway, professor of history, can discuss presidential politics, primaries and the Electoral College; congressional politics, constitutional rules and party structure; and the role of international economics, globalization and wars in American history. He has contributed to Slate and The American Prospect. He is the author of "Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America," "The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction" and "Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America." In 2000-2001, he commented on the significance of the electoral and popular votes for the Daily Telegraph and Financial Times. Contact Eric Rauchway, History, earauchway@ucdavis.edu.

Partisan politics and presidential elections

Political science professor Robert Huckfeldt is an expert on partisan politics. Huckfeldt is a scholar of public opinion, participation and voting in national elections. Contact: Robert Huckfeldt, Political Science, director of the Institute of Government Affairs and the UC Center Sacramento, (916) 445-5533, rhuckfeldt@ucdavis.edu.

What influences voting? Polling, lawn signs and other influencers

Recent research by Alison Ledgerwood, an assistant professor of psychology, suggests that neighbors’ lawn signs, public opinion polls and even a conversation in the next restaurant booth can affect how people vote in an election. But it all depends on timing. “We clearly use other people to help us make our decisions, but what my research shows is that we rely on different people’s opinions for near-future and distant-future events.” News release on research. Contact: Alison Ledgerwood, Psychology, (530) 752-4401, aledgerwood@ucdavis.edu.

Security of electronic voting

Matt Bishop, professor of computer science at UC Davis, can discuss security issues around electronic voting systems. Bishop has participated in several reviews of electronic voting systems. He was a co-principal investigator for the California Secretary of State's "Top to Bottom Review" of certified voting machines in 2007. He was also a member of the Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board (California). Bishop co-directs the Computer Security Laboratory at UC Davis, recognized by the National Security Agency as a center of excellence. He wrote the textbook "Computer Security: Art and Science." Contact: Matt Bishop, Computer Science, (530) 752-8060, mabishop@ucdavis.edu.

Political races

A.G. Block, associate director of the UC Center Sacramento and founding director of the center’s public affairs journalism program, can comment broadly on races to be decided in the election. Block reported on California politics and elections for many years as editor of California Journal magazine, and, more recently, as a columnist with Capitol Weekly. He is the co-editor and principal author of four editions of “The California Political Almanac,” as well as co-editor of six editions of the “California Politics and Government Annual.” Contact: A.G. Block, UC Center Sacramento, (916) 445-7300, agblock@ucdavis.edu.


Unemployment and job loss, labor markets, poverty

Labor economist Ann Huff Stevens, professor and chair of the Department of Economics and director of the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, can talk about issues related to unemployment, labor markets and poverty. Her research focuses on measurement and dynamics of poverty, the effect of income shocks on individuals’ income and health, and the effects of job loss and unemployment on use of medical care, insurance status and health outcomes of workers and their families. Contact: Ann Stevens, Economics, (530) 752-3034, annstevens@ucdavis.edu.

National energy policy

Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director for energy and sustainability for the Graduate School of Management and the Institute for Transportation Studies, can talk about issues related to U.S. energy policy and U.S. foreign policy as it relates to oil/gas and the Middle East, China, Mexico and Canada. Her research focuses on energy business strategy, energy and the U.S. economy, alternative fuels, the transformational aspects of unconventional oil and gas on American policy and business, and the geopolitics of oil and gas. Contact: Amy Myers Jaffe, (713) 384-9588, abmjaffe@ucdavis.edu.

Presidential personalities, trustworthiness, inconsistency

Steven Currall, dean and professor of the Graduate School of Management, is a behavioral scientist who can talk about leadership and trustworthiness. He has conducted research and taught for more than 20 years on organizational psychology topics such as innovation, emerging technologies, negotiation and corporate governance. He is a deputy editor-in-chief of the Journal of Trust Research. He can also address economic development issues. Contact: Steven C. Currall, Graduate School of Management, scc@ucdavis.edu (call Karen Nikos at 530-752-6101 or Dean Currall’s office at 530-752-4600).

Why do presidents succeed, and what makes a good leader?

Dean K. Simonton, a psychology professor, can discuss presidential personalities, leadership qualities, genius and creative leadership. He recently wrote a chapter, "Presidential Leadership," in The Oxford Handbook of Leadership. He is the author of the book: “Why Presidents Succeed: A political psychology of leadership (Yale University Press, 1987). He also authored, “Greatness: Who Makes History and Why,” (The Guilford Press, 1994). Contact: Dean K. Simonton, Psychology, dksimonton@ucdavis.edu.

Tax policy

Dennis J. Ventry Jr. can comment on federal and state tax policies, including tax expenditures, distribution of the tax burden and family taxation. He is a leading critic of the mortgage interest deduction, having written opinion pieces for news media and in academic journals on the subject. Ventry calls the deduction the most "inequitable, inefficient and ineffective" provision in the Internal Revenue Code. Contact: Dennis J. Ventry Jr., School of Law, (530) 752-4566, djventry@ucdavis.edu.

Robert Yetman, associate professor of management, is an expert on corporate tax, financial accounting, income tax, U.S. and international financial accounting, and nonprofit accounting and tax issues. Yetman can address presidential candidates' tax proposals  and California ballot propositions with tax implications. Contact: Robert Yetman, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-3571, rjyetman@ucdavis.edu.

K-12 education policy

Tom Timar, a professor in the School of Education and executive director of the Center for Applied Policy in Education at UC Davis, can speak about education policy as it figures in the presidential campaign. He recently co-edited the book, “Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Perspectives and Strategies for Challenging Times,” (Harvard Press). The book addresses alternatives to federal policies that previously have failed to address issues of children who are poor, racially isolated or have language challenges. Contact: Tom Timar, School of Education, (530) 754-6654, tbtimar@ucdavis.edu.

Welfare, poverty, tax policy and the recession

Hilary Hoynes, professor of economics, can talk about poverty, inequality and the impacts of government tax and transfer programs on low-income families. Her current research projects include evaluating the impact of the Great Recession across demographic groups, examining the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on infant health, and estimating impacts of U.S. food and nutrition programs on labor supply, health and human capital accumulation. She is part of a team of researchers awarded a $150,000 grant from the Russell Sage Foundation to study food insecurity during the recession. She is co-editor of American Economic Review. Contact: Hilary Hoynes, Economics, (530) 752-0505, hwhoynes@ucdavis.edu

Voting Rights Act, election law and Electoral College

Chris Elmendorf is a law professor and expert on elections.  He explores the consequences of election law for political party branding and the performance of low-information electorates; the propriety of categorizing "the electorate" as a state actor under the U.S. Constitution and what this implies for judicial interpretation of the Voting Rights Act; the contextual factors that influence policy-based and racial voting in municipal elections; and the administration of direct democracy. He can also talk about constitutional law as it relates to the Electoral College. Contact: Chris Elmendorf, School of Law, (530) 752-5756, (415) 385-5781 (cell), cselmendorf@ucdavis.edu.

The Electoral College

Carlton Larson specializes in constitutional law as it relates to the Electoral College. Contact: Carlton Larson, School of Law, (530) 754-5731, clarson@ucdavis.edu

Elections and the media

Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science, can talk about issues related to the presidential debates, media coverage of the election, and the effects of campaign messaging and news coverage on the public. Her research focuses on media dynamics, presidential rhetoric, and the framing of policy issues, examining how these forces influence citizens. Contact: Amber Boydstun, 530-219-4050, aboydstun@ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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