Liberal Arts Expertise Around Politics 2020: Campaigns, Elections, and Beyond

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The 2020 political campaign season has been unlike any other. From strategies around house and senate tickets, speculation regarding states in play, the process of selecting a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, to a contentious run for the presidency during a global pandemic, our faculty are bringing their insights and expertise to benefit and teach local, national, and international communities. 

Here are some of these thought leaders and recent examples of how their nuanced depth of understanding of political intersections with multiple aspects of our lives leads to their being called upon by the media for clarity and sound reason.

(Last updated October 16, 2020)

2020 Election: Research Insights

Hubbard School faculty members and graduate students study many topics that connect to the upcoming election: celebrity candidates, libel law, polling, political ad spending, misinformation & many others. Watch the videos for brief insights & learn more.


Danielle Kilgo, John & Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality

Expertise: News media’s and media audiences’ contribution to uneven power dynamics and diversity issues in society

Recommendations for media covering the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election (Election Coverage and Democracy Network)

Claire M. Segijn, assistant professor

Expertise: Synced advertising, Multiscreening, Media Multitasking, Attention, Advertising effects, Information processing and memory

Thinking, Knowing, or Thinking You Know: The Relationship Between Multiscreening and Political Learning (Sage Journals) - Abstract only: paid subscription required for full article

Christopher Terry, assistant professor

Expertise: Policy, regulatory and legal analysis of media ownership, media content, and political advertising

Broadcasters can't sensor campaign ads (KARE11)
Hagedorn, DJ deal could draw FCC inquiry (Mankato Free Press)
(KSTP)KTOE takes DJ with Hagedorn ties off air (Mankato Free Press)
What political ad spending says about the state of Minnesota’s biggest races (MinnPost)
Minnesota is still a battleground state — just not in the presidential election (MinnPost)

Benjamin J Toff, assistant professor

Expertise: Public opinion and polling, News audiences, Political communication, Political engagement

The ‘Nate Silver Effect’ Is Changing Journalism. Is That Good? (Politico)
What can “folk theories of journalism” tell us about why some people don’t trust us? (Neiman Lab)
Recommendations for Media Covering the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election (Election Coverage and Democracy Network)
The fate of the Fourth Estate (CLA)

Emily K. Vraga, Don and Carole Larson Professorship in Health Communication

Expertise: How individuals respond to news and information about contentious health, scientific, and political issues in digital environments

Mail-in voting, police protests create fertile ground for disinformation in Minnesota (Star Tribune)
Expert Alert: The science of debunking misinformation (The University of Minnesota)


Chris Federico, professor political science and psychology, and director of the Center for the Study of Political Psychology

Expertise: Nature of ideology and belief systems, the psychological foundations of political preferences, and intergroup attitudes

Most Americans experiencing significant election stress. Here's how to cope (NBC Today)

Paul Goren, professor and department chair

Expertise: Relationship between basic human values, public opinion, and symbolic ideology; how opinion on moral issues shape partisan and religious predispositions over time; and how welfare opinions reinforce racial prejudices

Do presidential debates persuade voters? Good Question (CBS-Local)

Timothy Johnson, professor

Expertise: Supreme Court oral arguments and decision making, the evolution of the norm of respecting precedent in US Courts, executive/judiciary relations, judicial politics, American politics

Power Up: Democrats hope Ginsburg’s passing will galvanize youth vote on reproductive rights (Washington Post)
Trump weighs three women for the high court; all would push the law to the right (Los Angeles Times)
Pandemic means a silent June at SCOTUS (AP)

Howard Lavine, professor and associate dean for social sciences

Expertise: Psychological underpinnings of mass political behavior, human rights, populism, partisan asymmetries, and the intersection of race and political context on public opinion

When party loyalty is stronger than a person’s values or beliefs (MinnPost) 
How Americans understand human eights in a Populist moment (CLA)
The politics of loyalty (CLA)

Michael Minta, associate professor

Expertise: Congressional politics, race and ethnic politics, interest group advocacy

Racial issues and the Trump-Biden contest: U of M panel explores the dynamics (MNPost)
The Ballot Count of 2020: An Election Night Preview (Almanac)

August Nimtz, associate professor

Expertise: Marxism, political economy, politics of race, class & ethnicity, and African politics

Campus unrest and the politics of law and order (part 2) (Dialogue Minnesota)

Kathryn Pearson, associate professor

Expertise: American politics, US Congress, women and politics, Congressional elections and political behavior, US political parties

Politics In The Age Of COVID-19 (Dialogue Minnesota)
Minnesota's Legal Marijuana Now Party congressional candidate dies; election for 2nd District postponed (Pioneer Press)
Republicans aim to flip blue-dog Democrat's House seat (BusinessWeek)
Across state and on both sides, Minnesotans overwhelmingly are voting absentee (StarTribune)
Women in Minneapolis suburbs have 'critical' role in 2020 election (ABC News)    
The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress: Conversation on Congressional Staffing (YouTube)
Women's role in U.S. politics explored in U of M event (MinnPost)
The Ballot Count of 2020: An Election Night Preview (Almanac)


Christopher Uggen, professor 

Expertise: Crime, law, justice; life course; inequality; methods; policy

Whether or Not You’re Able to Vote in Jail May Come Down to Where You're Incarcerated (Time)


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