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Political Experts Can Speak on Debates

Presidential Politics Experts at UC Riverside

Expertise on Debates,Media Bias, Political Spouses, Big Government Response to Terror, and Voter Behavior

(October 7, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — University of California, Riverside faculty bring their expertise in specialized areas of today’s political picture to commentary on the Presidential debates. They can enlighten stories about perceptions of media bias in politics, the role of political spouses, the role of big government in addressing the needs of the war on terror, and how third parties affect voter behavior.

Martin Johnson
, assistant professor of political science
Johnson's expertise on perceptions of media bias can enlighten reports that touch on the recent admissions by CBS News that it used inauthentic documents in a news story about President George Bush's National Guard service. Johnson studies how assumptions of bias in the news media impact the way people vote. Johnson received his bachelor's degree in journalism before earning advanced degrees in political science.

He has been quoted extensively in the media. In a story about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 in the Christian Science Monitor, he said, “Who's going to go? People who want to see Moore take on Bush and the war on terror, and people who want to go so they can walk out! If anything, it will heighten the divisions and promote activism among the already-decideds.”
Telephone: (951) 827-4612

Charles Whitney, professor and associate chair in creative writing and professor of sociology
Whitney can discuss opinion polls, public opinion about the news media and the impact of televised debates on voters. “The large audiences for the first two debates, and evidence of an upsurge in voter registration are showing that the American public believes that this is indeed the most important presidential election in a very long time,” Whitney said.

A public opinion researcher, Whitney is a former journalist who now studies journalists. He was senior researcher on a University of Texas research contract, 1999-2001, administered through the U.S. Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency on communications responses to biological terrorist attacks. He also was senior researcher of the three-year, $3.3 million, National Television Violence Study of cable and network television, conducted jointly with researchers at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Wisconsin and the University of North Carolina. Whitney is editor of a three-volume Encyclopedia of Journalism, scheduled for publication in 2006.
Telephone: (951) 827-6076

Catherine Allgor
, associate professor of history
Some say Laura Bush’s reserved style is a return to the traditional model of an American First Lady. But Prof. Allgor notes in her groundbreaking 2000 book, Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington City Help Build a City and a Government, America’s first First Ladies were engaged politicians who worked behind the scenes and helped shape the direction of domestic and foreign policy for husbands such as James Madison and John Quincy Adams through lobbying at social events such as dinners, dances, and what would today be called cocktail parties.

After a career in the theatre, Catherine Allgor received her Ph.D. in 1998 with distinction from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Award. Her dissertation on women and politics turned into her book, Parlor Politics. Professor Allgor has also written on politics, women, and religion for national publications, and her newest project is a political biography of Dolley Madison.
Telephone: (951) 827-1972

Max Neiman
, professor of political science
The era of big government is, apparently, not over. In fact, big government will be asked to address many of the changes recommended by the 9-11 Commission, such as retooling Intelligence, tightening America’s borders, and developing a global diplomatic and public relations strategy to contest radical Islamist ideology.

Neiman’s 2000 book, Defending Government: Why Big Government Works, documents the public's declining confidence in the system, and lays out the dangers of too much cynicism in the political process. “The disdain about government is, I think, based on misconceptions about its role in a democratic society,” he said, arguing that only an active and informed public can keep government from becoming an oppressive, unresponsive bureaucracy.
Telephone: (951) 827-4693

Shaun Bowler
, professor of political science
Of the Presidential race, Prof. Bowler says, “The big issue remains geography. The focus now is on the battleground states and where those votes come from. And, in particular, can Kerry find a way to offset the edge in the Electoral College enjoyed by the President as a consequence of re-apportionment and the over-representation of some states relative to others, especially relative to California?”

Bowler can comment on the undecided voter phenomenon as he studies voter behavior. He also studies the effect of third party candidates on elections, including how voters sometimes make a “strategic” vote for a third-party candidate in the primary even if they will vote for a major party candidate in the general election. The co-author of Demanding Choices: Opinions and Voting in Direct Democracy, Bowler has studied elections all over the world.
Telephone: (951) 827-5595

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