UVA Experts Provide Nonpartisan Context in a Partisan Landscape

In an election year that has captivated the world, the University of Virginia is in the thick of the action, offering nonpartisan analyses and important historical context for both major party conventions. UVA Today videographer Mitch Powers obtained media credentials to this week’s Republican National Convention and recorded a behind-the-scenes look at the University’s experts at work.

Faculty and staff from UVA’s Center for Politics and the Miller Center were both on the ground to share their expertise in Cleveland and will be heading to Philadelphia next to provide the same service at the Democratic National Convention.

Center for Politics Director and University Professor Larry Sabato and his team fielded numerous requests for interviews and shared in-depth analyses of convention events through their popular publication, “Sabato’s Crystal Ball.”

“Geoffrey Skelley [the center’s media relations coordinator] and I briefed the foreign media on Wednesday at the invitation of the State Department,” said Kyle Kondik, the director of communications for the Center for Politics. “While there is a tremendous amount of broad interest about this election worldwide, many members of the international media seem particularly fascinated by the Trump family. Six different Trumps addressed the convention, which is a large number even for American politics.”

Those who follow Sabato, Kondik and Skelley on Twitter were also treated to a real-time analysis of the convention’s events.  

Like their Center for Politics colleagues, Miller Center faculty provided reporters and their social media followers with important context for the convention.

In their case, it was historical context. Barbara Perry, the center’s director of presidential studies and co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program, and Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of presidential studies, were stationed at a booth alongside the convention’s “media row.”

The Miller Center also set up panel discussions at both conventions on the lessons that corporate CEOs can and cannot teach the president. Perry said her favorite quote of the week came from former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chair of the RNC, while he spoke at the panel in Cleveland.

“Using a horse-racing metaphor – which as a Louisvillian resonated with me – Barbour observed that a presidential candidate is like a champion thoroughbred and a campaign manager is the jockey,” Perry recalled. “The ‘horse’ should never tell the ‘jockey’ how to run the race!”  

As the country turns its attention to Philadelphia, readers can catch all the latest analyses from the University of Virginia by subscribing to the Crystal Ball and following the Miller Center’s First Year Project.

Media Contact

Katie McNally

University News Associate Office of University Communications