University of Virginia Experts Have 2012 Election Covered from Numerous Angles

November 05, 2012

The University of Virginia is a political science powerhouse, home to the Miller Center, a national center for the study of the American presidency, and Larry Sabato's Center for Politics, whose Crystal Ball predictions are consistently among the most accurate of any prognosticators, correctly predicting 98 percent of Senate, House of Representatives and gubernatorial winners in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

This tipsheet offers top experts from across the University and from among the more than 70 U.Va. faculty who study politics, ready to comment on a wide range of issues, from campaign ads to the implicit racial biases of voters, to the politics of health care reform and how next month's unemployment numbers might impact the elections.

For assistance reaching any U.Va. experts, please contact:
Brevy Cannon
University of Virginia Media Relations

Advertising and Polling

Paul Freedman
Associate professor of politics
434-924-1372 (office)
434-242-8654 (mobile)
Online Bio

Freedman co-authored a 2008 book demonstrating how, contrary to popular opinion, voters benefit from the ongoing barrage of negative political ads, which serve as "multi-vitamins for the average American's impoverished diet of political information." His research found that negative ads are the ones most likely to educate, engage and mobilize voters. Freedman does off-camera polling return analysis for ABC News.

Sample quotes:
Santorum Shows He'll Fight Back In Michigan Ad Wars

NPR's "Weekend Edition" / Feb 19, 2012

The Mind of the Marginal Voter: The issues that energized new voters in '08 haven't been resolved completely by the man they put in the White House.

Newsweek / November 22, 2010

American Presidency

Larry J. Sabato
University Professor of Politics
Director of the Center for Politics
University of Virginia
434-243-8468 (office)
Online Bio

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sabato is "probably the most quoted college professor in the land." The author of more than 20 books on politics, he has taught more than 14,000 students in his career. Sabato regularly appears on all of the major television networks to provide political analysis on the issues of the day. His nationally watched Crystal Ball predictions have consistently been the most accurate of any prognosticators. He is a keen observer of politics at the national, regional and state levels. In his two latest books, "The Year of Obama" and "Pendulum Swing," Sabato and a team of national experts examine the titanic shifts in American politics manifested in the past two elections, and implications for the 2012 election.

Media citation examples and more info at

• James W. Ceaser
Professor of politics
434-924-7903 (office)
434-996-1488 (mobile)
Online Bio

Ceaser has written a dozen books on elections and political thought, including co-authoring an in-depth post-election analysis book on each of the past five presidential elections. The most recent was "Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics." He is a frequent contributor to national media.

Sample quotes:
Va. Sen. Jim Webb Won't Seek Re-election In 2012

Associated Press / Feb. 10, 2011

Passing Down the Legacy of Conservatism
New York Times / July 31, 2006

• Sidney Milkis
Professor of politics
Assistant director for academic programs at U.Va.'s Miller Center of Public Affairs
434-924-6052 (office)
434-975-3139 (home)
434-984-5685 (home)
Online Bio

Milkis has written 11 books on American politics, including "Political Parties and Constitutional Government: Remaking American Democracy." Several serve as popular textbooks, including, "American Government: Balancing Rights and Democracy" (second edition) and "The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776–2011" (sixth edition).

His research focuses on the American presidency, political parties and elections, social movements and American political development.

Sample quotes:
Reforming Congress: Taking It Back To Formula

NPR's "All Things Considered" / Dec. 11, 2011

Analysis: A challenge for political parties: Change with times or risk waning influence
Associated Press / May 23, 2010

• Russell Riley
Associate professor and chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at U.Va.'s Miller Center
434-982-2740 (office)
Online Bio

As chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at U.Va.'s Miller Center, Riley has led or participated in comprehensive oral history interviews to document the presidencies of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Riley studies race and politics, presidential leadership, Southern politics, political parties, American political history, wartime and post-wartime politics. His book, "The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality: Nation-keeping from 1831-1965," is a comparative study of how presidents dealt with abolitionism and the later movement for black civil rights. He has a forthcoming book, "President's Words: Speeches and Speechwriting in the Modern White House."He is currently working on a book about post-war politics in the United States, examining comparatively the immediate aftermaths of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War.

Sample quotes:
Obama Will Focus on Economy in His State of the Union Speech

Associated Press / Jan. 25, 2011

What Kind of Temperament Is Best?
TIME / Oct. 16, 2008

Voting Rights/ Voter ID Reforms

• Risa Goluboff
John Allan Love Professor of Law, Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law and professor of history
School of Law and College of Arts & Sciences
434-924-3749 (office)

Online Bio

Goluboff can discuss voting rights issues, and is an expert on constitutional law, legal history and the Supreme Court.

"Proponents of reforming the voting process seem blind to the fact that all of these seemingly neutral reforms hit poor and minority voters out of all proportion," Goluboff said in a Slate op-ed piece she co-wrote with Dahlia Lithwick.

Election and Campaign Finance Law

• Michael Gilbert
Associate professor of law
School of Law
434-243-8551 (office)

Online Bio

Gilbert can discuss election and campaign finance law. "Requiring disclosure of the sources of political spending provides information to voters, but it also chills speech, and that takes information away. Consequently, it's not clear if disclosure helps voters make better decisions."

Voting Machine Technology

• David Evans
Associate professor of computer science
School of Engineering and Applied Science
434-982-2218 (office)
Online Bio

Evans is an expert on voting machine technology and security. In addition to his research on the flaws of computerized voting equipment, Evans has served on a Virginia state legislative subcommittee on voting equipment.

Media comment:
Computer expert: Scrap all paperless voting machines

Roanoke Times / Nov. 16, 2006

• Bryan Pfaffenberger
Associate professor of science, technology and society
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Online Bio

Pfaffenberger is currently writing a book on the history of voting machines from 1888 to 1983, tentatively titled, "Machining the Vote." He has found that scholars have all but ignored the history of voting machines – which he finds surprising, given our politically obsessed culture. "There's an almost exact parallel between the debate we're having today concerning electronic voting machines and the equally divisive, but completely forgotten, debate that greeted first-generation voting machine technology in the 1920s," Pfaffenberger says. "It's a sad comment on today's computer-based voting technologies that they can't achieve what an 1890s invention was able to do – namely, convince nearly all voters that their votes had been counted," he says.

A Call to Continue Voting by Lever
New York Times / March 11, 2009

Media and Politics

• Siva Vaidhyanathan
Professor of media studies
434-243-4333 (office)
917-532-6043 (mobile)

Online Bio

Vaidhyanathan wrote "The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)" and authors a popular blog of the same name. He also wrote "Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity." He argues that the Internet is bad for democracy because the Google-customized and Facebook-filtered Web creates an echo chamber where "we're more likely to come across like-minded posts from our friends and like-minded people. A republic works better when we make the extra effort to engage with a variety of points of view," he says.

Vaidhyanathan also thinks the press overstates the role of social media in political revolution, like the Arab Spring.

He is an expert on the struggles of new media versus old media, and how that plays out in higher education and national Internet policy, such as the recent controversy around the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). He is frequently a source for national media, discussing everything from Twitter and the blogosphere to

Sample quotes:
Voting Against the Algorithm: Why Siva Vaidhyanathan will argue that the Internet constricts politics at the Slate/Intelligence Squared debate on April 17.
Slate / April 11, 2012

Race, Gender and Class in Politics

• Brian Nosek
Assistant professor of psychology
Online Bio

Nosek is a co-developer of the Implicit Association Test, an online set of tests completed by more than 13 million people that measure how long it takes respondents to match positive and negative words with black and white faces (including politicians such as Obama and Romney), revealing "implicit bias," and suggesting that some self-declared undecided voters unconsciously may have already made a choice.

Sample quotes:
A Nation of Cowards?

New York Times / Feb. 21, 2009

Discussion of bias needs give and take
San Francisco Chronicle / May 10, 2007

• Lynn Sanders
Associate professor of politics
434-284-1580 (mobile)
434-924-3613 (office)
434-973-0173 (home)
Online Bio

Sanders studies gender, race and class issues, with a special interest in the issue of whether voters lie to conform with perceived social standards and what role racial prejudice might play in the election.

Sample quotes:
For scholars of race, an Obama dilemma

Newhouse News Service / Aug. 13, 2008

The Economy and Politics

Robert F. Bruner
Dean of the Darden School of Business
Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
434-924-7481 (office)
Online Bio

Author of seven books and an expert in several areas of finance, including financial crises and mergers and acquisitions, Bruner speaks frequently with the media, having been quoted over 100 times in just the past three years. Major media have widely quoted him for stories about the current financial crises. He often provides big-picture lessons and historical context, drawing from his recent book, "The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market's Perfect Storm," which examines a financial crisis that bears remarkable similarities to today's turbulence. Read his reactions to current events on his blog:

Sample quotes:
Pensions Find Private Equity Bites as Blackstone Cuts

Bloomberg/BusinessWeek / Feb. 28, 2012

Looking Back to Move Forward
Wall Street Journal / Sept. 17, 2008

• Herman Schwartz
Professor of politics
434-227-0180 (mobile)
434-924-7818 (office)
Online Bio

Schwartz specializes in the politics of the global economy, including two books on the politics of housing markets and detailed studies of various industries (such as automobiles, aircraft, semiconductors and biotech) in the U.S., other industrial countries and developing nations. His most recent books are, "Subprime Nation: American Power, Global Capital and the Housing Bubble" (2009) and "The Politics of Housing Market Booms and Busts" (2009). He discussed themes from the former book at a U.Va. event in February 2009.

Sample quotes:
Gas prices are falling: Why that might not really help Obama

Christian Science Monitor / May 9, 2012

David Leblang
J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance and Professor of Politics
Chair of the Department of Politics and faculty associate at U.Va.'s Miller Center
434-243-1574 (office)
434-243-8193 (office)
Online Bio

A specialist in political economy, Leblang has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Defense. He is co-author of "Democratic Politics and Financial Markets: Pricing Politics" (2006). Leblang has written on the politics of economic growth, the political consequences of the 2007-08 global financial crisis, the determinants of exchange rate policy, the causes of currency crises and the link between elections and economic expectations.

Sample quotes:
Pattern seen in governments' currency policies

MIT News / May 5, 2010

Gregory B. Fairchild
Associate professor at Darden School of Business
Executive director of Tayloe Murphy Center
434-243-8879 (office)
434-825-2581 (mobile)
Online Bio

Fairchild is national expert on small business policy, and the impact of the financial crisis on small business finance. One of his specialties is entrepreneurship and small business job creation in economically challenged areas.

He is currently studying business models and public policy issues in the field of community development finance, an initiative supported by a three-year, $850,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Sample quotes:
Latinos bank on keeping money safe

McClatchy-Tribune Regional News / Aug. 2, 2011

Should an Employer Allow an Employee to Work on a Side Business?
Entrepreneur Magazine
/ Dec. 24, 2011

Corporate Law and the Economic Crisis

• Paul Mahoney
Dean, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law
School of Law
434-924-7343 (office)

Online Bio

Mahoney can discuss business/corporate law and the economic crisis. He says, "Certainly one very simple point that I hope regulators have learned is that any set of policies or regulations that actively encourages banks not to apply sound underwriting standards when making loans is a bad policy, and ought to be rethought."

Modeling Bipartisanship In Financial Regulation
National Journal, Feb. 19, 2010

Making Bankers Pay: It's Happened Before
SmartMoney / Jan. 13, 2010

Health Care Reform

• Dr. Arthur "Tim" Garson Jr.
University Professor of Public Health Sciences; director, Center for Health Policy; former U.Va. provost; former dean of the U.Va. School of Medicine
434-924-8419 (office)
434-971-1718 (home)
Online Bio

A leading expert on national health policy, Garson has authored or co-authored eight books, including, "Health Care Half-Truths: Too Many Myths, Not Enough Reality." He has served on two White House panels and on several national task forces on improving the health care system. He has strong views on health care reform; for instance, he argues that roughly one-third of total spending in the American health care system – about $700 billion annually – is wasted.

"Tax breaks will clearly help reduce the uninsured," Garson says. "The key is, how much is the break? It's no good if anyone has to come up with more than 5 percent of their income, or if they buy 'insurance' that when you read the fine print actually barely covers a doctor visit and no tests. More than seven in 10 people who are uninsured work – and continue to work – and so the ability to be covered between jobs is vital. Automobile accidents don't just occur when people are working."

He co-authored a provocative paper, "Reducing Obesity: Strategies from the Tobacco Wars," suggesting that taxing unhealthy foods would curb their consumption.

Garson and Carolyn Engelhard co-author a monthly health care column for The Houston Chronicle outlining myths and realities of American health care. Previous columns:

Previously, Garson and Engelhard co-authored a similar monthly health care column for Governing Magazine.

• Carolyn Engelhard
Assistant professor of public health sciences and director of the Health Policy Program
434-982-6744 (office)
434-962-1603 (mobile)
Online Bio

Engelhard, co-author of "Health Care Half Truths: Too Many Myths, Not Enough Reality" on the challenges and politics of health care reform, excels at breaking down the complex issues involved. Engelhard and Arthur Garson co-author a monthly health care column for The Houston Chronicle. Previously, they co-authored a monthly health care column for Governing Magazine.

Dorrie Fontaine
Dean of the Nursing School and Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing
434-924-0063 (office)
434-244-8423 (home)

Online Bio

Fontaine is able offer her perspective about the case, changes to health care in light of the decision, and would reiterate that, no matter what the Supreme Court decides, dramatic changes in nursing will continue their pace.
Dean of the U.Va. School of Nursing since 2008, she is a long-time intensive care nurse and a critical care nursing professor. 

"Nursing is changing at lightning speed, and the Supreme Court's ultimate decision about health care reform won't stop that," Fontaine said. "Fewer primary care docs, a sicker patient population, changes in the parameters surrounding nurses' scope of practice (the ability to prescribe, diagnose and treat) and a mandate for higher education all mean that the depth and breadth of a nurse's job is more complex than ever."

• Eric Patashnik
Professor of public policy and politics
Associate dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
434-924-0903 (office)

Online Bio

Patashnik's current major research project explores the politics of evidence-based medicine and how politics shapes the quality of health care decisions in the U.S., including analysis of American public opinion on the Obama administration's push for evidence-based medicine, funded by two major national grants.

He argues that the health care reform battle will continue, no matter how the Supreme Court rules.

His public policy research has focused on the interaction of institutions, agendas and interest groups in the development of major legislation, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His most recent book is "Living Legislation: Durability, Change, and the Politics of American Lawmaking." His 2008 book, "Reforms at Risk: What Happens After Major Policy Changes Are Enacted," received the Louis Brownlow Book Award given by the National Academy of Public Administration.

Sample quotes:
Will the health care reform law last after 2010 election?

Christian Science Monitor / April 6, 2010

• Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg
Associate professor of business administration
Online Bio

An economist with expertise in strategy and innovation, Teisberg focuses her current research on innovation in health care. She is co-author of the book "Redefining Health Care," which addresses the paradox of why competition doesn't currently work in health care and how to make it work.

"The problem with our health care system isn't that we have too much or too little competition, but that we have the wrong kind of competition," Teisberg says. "The structure of health care delivery has to change. Consumer-driven health care won't work."

Teisberg is also a strong proponent of universal health care coverage – "Not just for reasons of ethics," she says, "but for reasons of economy as well."

Sample quotes:
Guest column: Rethinking the role of employers

Financial Times / July 3, 2008

Health Care Reform, Individual Mandate, Health Care Marketplace

• Margaret Foster "Mimi" Riley
Professor, General Faculty
School of Law
434-924-4671 (office)

Online Bio

Riley, who also has a secondary appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at U.Va.'s School of Medicine, teaches food and drug law, health law, animal law, bioethics, regulation of clinical research and public health law.

She says, "Health reform is a likely flashpoint in the rhetoric and debate leading up to the election in November. And there are many uncertainties, the most important of which is probably the expected ruling this summer by the Supreme Court on the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion. But the election may also provide opportunities to explain the legislation comprehensively to the American public in ways that have been elusive up until now. The ACA is very complex legislation – but the health care marketplace is very complex. It affects everyone and is a major engine in the economy. Everyone involved in health care agrees that reform has been necessary. The difference is in the details."

Support for embryonic stem-cell study drops
Richmond Times-Dispatch / December 15, 2006

Middle East Politics and Policy

William Quandt
Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs
University of Virginia
434-924-7896 (office)
434-971-1688 (mobile)
Online Bio

As a former senior staff member of the National Security Council and aide to President Carter, Quandt helped craft the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt. He is an expert on the Middle East, especially Egypt, Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East. He was a consultant to ABC News during the Gulf War, and has been quoted widely in major media. In a book strikingly relevant to the current turmoil in the region, "Between Ballots and Bullets: Algeria's Transition from Authoritarianism," Quandt looks at both the pressures that erode authoritarian regimes and the difficulties of making a transition to democracy in the Arab world.
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Sample quotes:
America's hand in Middle East peace / 10 lessons to learn from past Mideast peace talks

USA Today / Aug. 31, 2010

Presidential Powers

• Saikrishna Prakash
David Lurton Massee, Jr., Professor of Law
School of Law
434-243-8539 (office)

Online Bio

Prakash's scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly presidential powers. He teaches constitutional law, foreign relations law and presidential powers. He argues that the Troubled Asset Relief Program spending fell within a president's emergency powers under the Constitution, but the bailouts of GM and Chrysler failed the constitutional test. He says, "A candidate's stance on the scope of presidential power often has little bearing on his approach once he's in office."

Debating the Legality of the Bailout
Wall Street Journal / Dec. 7, 2010

Christianity in American Politics

• Valerie Cooper
Assistant professor of religious studies
434-924-6648 (office)
Online Bio

Cooper looks at how Christianity has impacted political ideas from the 19th century to the present. She also studies the differences and commonalities of different groups, according to race and ethnicity, gender and age.

For African-Americans, biblical interpretations have been used to support progressive causes, in contrast to the predominantly white Religious Right's use of the Bible for its conservative agenda. Younger white evangelical Christians do not share the "visceral fear of having a black president that the older generation did."

Cooper and political scientist Corwin Smidt co-authored an essay on the role of religion and race in the book, "'Righteousness and Justice': Religion, Barack Obama, and the 2008 Election."

Sample quotes:
What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?
Virginia Insight / WMRA public radio / April 21, 2011

The "Christian Left"

• Charles R. Marsh
Religious studies professor and director of the Project on Lived Theology
Online Bio

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.

Media comment:
Op-ed: Wayward Christian soldiers

New York Times / Jan. 20, 2006

Religious Liberty

• Douglas Laycock
Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law, Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor of Law, Professor of Religious Studies
School of Law and College of Arts & Sciences
434-243-8546 (office)

Online Bio

Laycock is one of the nation's leading authorities on the law of remedies and also on the law of religious liberty.

He says, "Religious liberty should not be a left-right issue. Like any other basic civil liberty, it should protect all sides in the culture wars – believers and nonbelievers, believers of every faith and variety, theological liberals and theological conservatives. It should, for example, protect churches that perform same-sex religious weddings in red states, and churches that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages in blue states. Religious liberty preserves space for each of us to believe, teach and live some of our deepest values."

High stakes for church in case against KC bishop
Associated Press / March 26, 2012

Broccoli Mandates and the Commerce Clause
New York Times / March 31, 2012

Debates, Public Speaking Analysis

• Robert Sayler and Molly Shadel
Law professors
School of Law

Online Bio


Online Bio

Sayler and Shadel are public speaking experts and oral advocacy professors at the School of Law and the authors of "Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion." They are available to comment on communications strategies, gaffes and successes (in debates, speeches and marketing) during the presidential campaign.

Examples of their opinion pieces analyzing political communications are available at:

Sample quotes:
Campus Overload: U-Va. law professors explain the art of public speaking

Washington Post, March 22, 2011

Immigration, Secure Communities and Detainee Policy

• David Martin
Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law; Joel B. Piassick Research Professor of Law
School of Law
434-924-3144 (office)

Online Bio

Martin is one of the nation's leading experts in immigration and international law. He served as deputy general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security for the first two years of the Obama administration and as Immigration and Naturalization Services general counsel under President Clinton. He also can comment on presidential powers and national security, including detainee policy.

"Let me just emphasize something about Secure Communities," Martin said in an NPR report on the creation of a new program in U.S. immigration policy. "At its heart, it is a matter of sharing information about people who have been arrested for crimes. Most people would agree that these are folks who should be removed from the country."

Ex-Contra activist represents U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants
Associated Press / October 27, 2007

National Security Law/ Law of the Sea

• John Norton Moore
Walter L. Brown Professor of Law, director of the Center for National Security Law, and director of the Center for Oceans Law and Policy
School of Law
434-924-7441 (office)

Online Bio

Moore is a former U.S. ambassador and an expert on national security law, foreign policy and the law of the sea.

"Soldiers routinely use lethal force against their enemies without the involvement of judges or juries," Moore said. "Press accounts report bin Laden was shot during an extensive firefight between his forces and U.S. Navy SEALs. Based upon the available evidence, the targeting was perfectly lawful under both U.S. and international law."

Sample quotes:
U.S. Mulls Over Prosecution Options For Pirate

NPR: All Things Considered / April 13, 2009

Tax Law and Policy

• George Yin
Edwin S. Cohen Distinguished Professor of Law and Taxation, and Thomas F. Bergin Teaching Professor
School of Law
434-924-7025 (office)

Online Bio

Former chief of staff of Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, Yin is a national authority on tax law and policy.

"Depending upon how it is achieved, I think part of the Buffett Rule might make sense," Yin said in response to tax issues surrounding President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address. "One reason high-income (and middle-income) taxpayers are able to reduce their tax liabilities is because they are entitled to certain special allowances in the tax law, such as the mortgage-interest deduction. These allowances generally have a nontax purpose, such as to encourage and subsidize home ownership. In a period of very limited government resources, it would be reasonable to reduce or curtail completely the benefit of these allowances to higher-income taxpayers who have the economic resources to obtain the desired end (home ownership) without the government help. If these allowances were taken away from millionaires or higher-income taxpayers, it would increase their rate of tax."

Sample quotes:
Tax Breaks for Bailout Recipients Stir Up Debate

Wall Street Journal / Dec. 3, 2010