News Release: Politics

Jun. 4,  2008

Next Phase of Presidential Election Focus of Analysis for Emory Experts

As the historic 2008 presidential election enters its next phase, Emory political experts are available to comment on a wide range of topics, include voter psychology, race and gender, and predictions of what lies ahead in November.

Despite Polls, Democrats Have Huge Advantage

Alan I. Abramowitz
• election forecasting, polling analysis
• 404-727-0108 or polsaa@emory.edu

Early horserace polls that show Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in a tight race are not accurate predictors of what may happen in November, says Emory political scientists and polling expert Alan Abramowitz. A recent analysis of the national political climate by Abramowitz instead finds McCain facing a "triple whammy" of factors that will be near-impossible to overcome: an unpopular president, a weak economy and a second term election.

The full analysis can be found at University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato's "Crystal Ball '08" Web site.

Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory, and a renowned expert on national politics and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate.

Race Remains Compelling Campaign Issue

Andra Gillespie

• political mobilization, modern black leadership
• 404-727-9748 or andra.gillespie@emory.edu

"Modern black politicians have the unique and unenviable burden of convincing voters that they will work to represent the policy interests of all voters, not just blacks. To do this, many choose to adopt universal campaign themes that they hope will appeal to all voters," says Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie. "Unfortunately, history has shown that no matter how transcendent deracialized black candidates try to be, their race often becomes a prominent campaign issue, and it is one Obama will need to address again in the coming months."

Gillespie is an assistant professor of political science at Emory whose research looks at political mobilization and race, as well as competition between minority groups. Gillespie's experience as a pollster and consultant has helped shape her research into what works -- and what doesn't -- in minority politics today as new leadership emerges separate from the civil rights generation.

Emotions, Not Policies, Drive Voter Behavior

Drew Westen
• psychology of voter behavior
• Contact Beverly Clark at 404-712-8780, 404-275-4771 or Drew Westen at dwesten@emory.edu.

How did upstart Barack Obama manage to derail Hillary Clinton's once fast-track bid for the Democratic presidential nomination? The answer lies as much in the minds and brains of the voters as in delegate math, says Drew Westen, Emory psychologist and author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation." For Westen, it's not the issues that distinguish winning and losing candidates but the emotions the candidates elicit and the gut-level feelings people associate with them.

Westen is a clinical, personality, and political psychologist, and professor in the Emory departments of psychology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He often comments on political and psychological issues for radio, television, and print media. Since the book’s publication last year, Westen has advised or worked as a political consultant for presidential, congressional and state-level Democratic candidates, progressive and labor organizations and Fortune 500 companies.

Related Information: 'The Political Brain' Explains Hillary Clinton's Slide

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