TIP SHEET: University of Virginia Experts on Midterm Elections

Oct. 16, 2006 -- University of Virginia experts are available to provide background information or discuss various issues involved in the 2006 midterm elections. Their areas of expertise and contact information are included below. For help in reaching them, contact Charlotte Crystal, U.Va. News Office, by phone at 434-924-6858 (days) or 434-984-1462 (evenings), or by email at ccrystal@virginia.edu.

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PUTTING THE 2006 ELECTIONS INTO HISTORICAL CONTEXT: U.S. POLITICAL HISTORY

James W. Ceaser, Professor, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-7903. Email: ceaser@virginia.edu

Ceaser has written several books on American politics and political thought, including "Presidential Selection," "Liberal Democracy and Political Science," "Reconstructing America," and "Nature and History in American Political Development." Ceaser is a frequent contributor to the popular press and to Voice of America.

Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Prof of Government & Foreign Affairs; Chairman, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-3037. Email: milkis@virginia.edu

Milkis has written or edited several books that explore changes in the U.S. government and political system over time, including "Political Parties and Constitutional Government: Remaking American Democracy," "The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism" and "The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2002." Milkis is particularly interested in the institutional evolution of the executive branch of the U.S. government. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate students, he also teaches U.S. political history to international scholars and high school teachers.

HANGING CHADS REPRISE: PROBLEMS WITH COMPUTERIZED VOTING MACHINES


David E. Evans, Associate Professor Department of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science. Phone: 434-982-2218. Email: evans@virginia.edu

Since the 2000 presidential elections, many voting jurisdictions have purchased Direct Recording Electronic Voting machines that use a touch screen, a wheel or a mouse as a voting device to replace older equipment. But "anyone who works in the software industry or in computer security knows that any complex software has flaws, which means that it can be broken," Evans says. In fact, some of the top-selling voting machines have simple, frightening flaws. Above all, DREs only record votes electronically and leave no paper trail, which means that the voting results are vulnerable to manipulation. In addition to his research on the flaws of computerized voting equipment, Evans has served on a Virginia state legislative subcommittee - the Joint Subcommittee to Study the Certification Process for Voting Equipment and Matters Related to the Performance and Proper Deployment of Voting Equipment.

SLINGING MUD: CANDIDATES USE NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN ADS BECAUSE THEY WORK

Paul Freedman. Associate Professor, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-1372. Email: freedman@virginia.edu

Freedman is an expert on polling and public opinion and has studied the impact of media, and especially campaign advertising, on voter behavior. Freedman advised ABC News on polling returns during the 2000 and 2004 federal elections. He often challenges accepted wisdom. For example, in an opinion piece titled "The Gay Marriage Myth: Terrorism, Not Values, Drove Bush's Re-election," that ran in 2004, on Slate.com, Freedman wrote: "Did 'moral values' - in particular, the anti-gay marriage measures on ballots in 11 states this week - drive President Bush's re-election? That's the early conventional wisdom as Democrats begin soul-searching and finger-pointing. These measures are alleged to have drawn Christian conservatives to the polls, many of whom failed to vote last time. The theory is intriguing, but the data don't support it. Gay marriage and values didn't decide this election. Terrorism did."

DIFFERENT WORLDVIEWS: FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES FOR U.S. LEADERS

Jeffrey W. Legro, Professor, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-3958. Email: legro@virginia.edu

Legro, who specializes in international relations, explores the challenges that different views of international order and security among major nations pose for American foreign policy in his most recent book, "Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order." In an earlier book, "Cooperation Under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint During World War II," Legro examined the use and non-use of "unthinkable" weapons such as chemical warfare and unrestricted bombing. In 2002-2003, he was a Fulbright professor at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.

THE CHRISTIAN LEFT IS ALIVE AND WELL

Charles R. Marsh Professor, Department of Religious Studies; Director, Project on Lived Theology. Phone: 434-924-6839. Email: cmarsh@virginia.edu

We hear so much about the Christian Right, especially during election years. But what about the Christian Left? According to Marsh, the Christian Left is alive and well - and active in many important social justice causes nationwide - but has been flying below the media's radar. "Committed Christians have been working quietly for decades to cope with this country's social problems," says Marsh, the son of a Southern Baptist minister. "Many of them have opted out of national politics, putting their faith to work in grassroots efforts to 'think globally, act locally.'" He believes the faith-based movement has been co-opted by the political right and used by "compassionate conservatives" to justify cuts in federal social spending. Marsh directs the Project on Lived Theology, a research initiative that seeks to understand how theological commitments shape the social patterns and practices of religious communities.

ABOUT THOSE "HUDDLED MASSES": IMMIGRATION AND U.S. POLITICS


David A. Martin, Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law, Class of 1963 Research Professor, School of Law. Phone: 434-924-3144, Email: dam3r@virginia.edu

Martin served for two years as special assistant to the assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the Department of State. From 1995-98, he served as General Counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. On U.Va.'s law faculty, he has taught citizenship, constitutional law, immigration, international law, international human rights, presidential powers, refugee law, and property.Martin has twice served as a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States, preparing studies and recommendations on federal migrant worker assistance programs and on reforms to political asylum adjudication procedures. In 1993 he undertook a consultancy for the Department of Justice that led to major reforms of the U.S. political asylum adjudication system. In 2003-04 he was asked by the Department of State to provide a comprehensive study of the U.S. overseas refugee admissions program, leading to recommendations for reform of that system.

WILL BANNING GAY MARRIAGE END IT? GAY MARRIAGE AND U.S. POLITICS

John E. Portmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies. Phone: 434-924-6713. Email: jep7a@virginia.edu

Divisions in society and within churches over gay marriage are similar to past cultural anxieties about interracial marriage, female chastity and welcoming Jews fully into Christian communities, and will pass within a generation, says Portmann. Even though 19 states have passed amendments that effectively ban gay marriage, and seven more states will put similar amendments on their election ballots this November, Portmann points to opinion polls indicating that young adults in America are significantly less concerned about gay marriage than older Americans. "Cultural anxieties of this sort may continue to smolder for some time, but it will become socially unacceptable to voice the view of previous generations," he said. In his 2003 volume, "Sex and Heaven: Catholics in Bed and at Prayer," Portmann argued that "what religious belief comes down to these days is not how to pray or what God's personality profile might be, but rather how to have sex and what to think of women. God has taken a back seat to sex, and a Christian church risks losing its salvific reach if it focuses on sex instead of God."

FEELING STRESSED? POLITICS MAY BE GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Lynn M. Sanders, Associate Professor, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-3613. Email: lsanders@virginia.edu

In her study of American government, Sanders focuses on public opinion, racial and gender politics and democratic theory. Her current research explores the influence of political participation on mental health. She is also working on a book that examines how the methodological assumptions of survey researchers have shaped Americans' understanding of public opinion on race.

TALKING TRASH: POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Vivian E. Thomson, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Department of Politics. Phone: 434-924-3964. Email: vthomson@virginia.edu

Thomson's professional specialty is environmental politics. In 2001 she co-founded and now co-directs a bachelor's degree program in Environmental Thought and Practice. She was appointed in 2002 to the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board, the five-member body that makes air pollution policy for the Commonwealth of Virginia. And she has recently participated in meetings in Germany and Italy on the subjects of trash management and greenhouse gas emissions trading, respectively. Her book manuscript, "Desperately Seeking Certainty: Air Pollution Policy and Its Discontents, 1970-1995," is under review. Her second book project, "Garbage In, Garbage Out: Virginia is for Landfills," examines interstate trash transport in the United States within a broad social, economic and cultural context that includes cross-country comparisons.