News Release: Politics

Oct. 13,  2008

Election Experts

The Last Debate: Experts Analyze Presidential Contenders

Emory political and debate experts are available to comment on the presidential debates, voter psychology, race and politics, regional differences and what lies ahead in November.

For assistance reaching any of these experts, contact Beverly Clark at 404-712-8780 (o), 404-275-4771 (c), or Elaine Justice at 404-727-0643 (o), 404-276-8263 (c).  More of the latest expert election commentary


Debate Experts Available 

• Melissa Maxcy Wade is executive director of forensics (debate) as head of Emory's Barkley Forum, and is one of only three university debate coaches in the United States who has served on the National Associated Press Presidential Debate Evaluation Panel for every U.S. presidential election since 1976.  404-727-6189 or

Related story:  Debate Expert: Palin Strategy Probably Will Include Attack

Bill Newnam is associate director of forensics and debate coach for the Barkley Forum at Emory, and administrative director of the National Debate Project Debate Center at Georgia State University, which serves hundreds of students and teachers each year. He also serves as a regional and national media commentator on political debates. 404-727-6189 or

Related Story: Presidential Debate Analysis Finds Obama, McCain Strong

•  James Roland is director of Community Debate Programs and debate coach for Emory's Barkley Forum. He is a former nationally ranked debater has been a debate advisor to the U.S. State Department. 404-727-6189 (w), 678-516-8223 (c),

Related Story: Presidential Debate Analysis Finds Obama, McCain Strong

Susan Tamasi is a faculty member in linguistics who can discuss discourse analysis and use of campaign language. She is a specialist in sociolinguistics and American English dialects--their structure, development, and connections with social and political issues. 404-727-7843,

Related Story: Political Language Relies on Linguistic Cues


Election Experts Available to Discuss Impact of Debates

Alan I. Abramowitz: Election forecasting, polling analysis

Abramowitz is a renowned expert on national politics, polling 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. 404-727-0108 or

Related Story: Presidential Debates: Expect Talking Points, Gaffe Avoidance

•  Merle Black: National elections, political parties, Republicans in the South

Merle Black is a prominent expert on national politics and the foremost authority on politics in the South. One the nation’s most incisive commentators, Black is coauthor of "Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics." 404-727-6570 or

•  Andra Gillespie: Race, political mobilization, modern black leadership

Gillespie is an Emory political scientist whose research looks at political mobilization and race, as well as competition between minority groups and post civil rights-era black leadership. 404-727-9748 or

•  Drew Westen: Psychology of voter behavior

Westen is author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation." Since its publication, 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. Contact Beverly Clark at 404.712.8780 or Drew Westen

•  Michael Kang: Election law, voting rights, race and redistricting, campaign finance and direct democracy

Emory law associate professor Michael Kang is teaching a course this fall on election law; he took a similar class as a law student at the University of Chicago—taught by Barack Obama. 404-712-4243 or

Related Story: Kang Teaches Topics He Learned in Obama's Classroom


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