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Election experts at DePaul University discuss presidential race, debates

Scholars comment on topics of psychology, social media and immigration

Political experts from DePaul University are available to discuss the presidential debates and election. (Image by iStock)
CHICAGO — Ahead of the presidential debates, DePaul University faculty experts are available to provide insight and commentary. Their expertise includes history of political debates, voter behavior, political marketing and the role of the news media and social media in shaping voter opinion.

Psychology and leadership
Jaclyn M. Jensen, Associate Professor of Management, Driehaus College of Business. “While being hostile and negative might be very flashy, research suggests that type of leadership style does much more harm than good,” said Jensen. “There are also issues of honesty, openness and transparency when you want to occupy the highest office in the land,” she said. An organizational psychologist, Jensen’s research contributes to an emerging literature on negative employee experiences at work, with a focus on employee mistreatment, conflict, destructive relationships and hostile work conditions. Jensen can discuss how candidates’ personalities, quirks and traits might make them effective in the workplace, and how they use these qualities to persuade voters. She can be reached at 312-362-6852 or

Youth vote
Zachary Cook, Adjunct Faculty, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and School for New Learning. 
Cook’s academic focus includes the politics of the millennial youth vote, campaign finance, voter turnout and political parties and polarization. He can discuss day-to-day tactics and news narratives of the 2016 presidential campaign and its broader democratic significance. Cook can be reached at 773-325-8679 or

Race and politics
Valerie Johnson, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
 “The presidential general election is in full swing and has once again brought issues of race to the forefront,” said Johnson. She is an expert on U.S. politics, African-American politics and urban politics, multiracial political alliances and the politics of urban education. “Until we fully reckon with the cumulative socioeconomic advantages and disadvantages associated with past and continuing racism and white privilege, and begin open and honest public dialogue about race, all of our hopes and dreams of a democratic society will remain unrealized,” she said. “It is imperative that the presidential nominees lead the way." Johnson can be reached at 773-325-4731 or

Presidential conventions and parties
R. Craig Sautter, Adjunct Faculty, School for New Learning. Sautter is author of three books on presidential conventions and elections ( For more than two decades, he has written and produced radio and TV ads for candidates running for Congress and other offices across the nation. "This presidential election is among the most fascinating in U.S. history, matching one of the most politically experienced candidates ever against one of the least prepared and most flamboyant. Yet going into the last month, the race seems to be neck and neck. Why? The reasons are both personal and institutional, including a reaction against an ‘entitled’ political class that is prospering while much of the nation is economically hard-pressed. The end game is likely to be wild." Sautter can be reached at

Election process

Nick Kachiroubas, Associate Teaching Professor, School of Public Service. “With the race for president tightening, the debates will be important to see how the nominees respond regarding specific policy-related issues and how those responses sit with potential voters. It will also be important to observe if nominees are able to use the debates to energize and expand their support bases,” said Kachiroubas. An expert on leadership and its relationship to politics, policy and the presidency, Kachiroubas has served in a wide range of elected and supportive roles in federal, state and local governments. He has published a guide on the presidential election process, online at Kachiroubas can be reached at 312-362-7649 or​.

Political process
Michael L. Mezey, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
 Mezey is an expert in congressional and presidential elections and processes, public policymaking and the Electoral College. He can discuss current polling, the Electoral College, and the electoral coalitions that both Clinton and Trump need to assemble and energize in order to prevail. He is also interested in the larger meaning of the Trump candidacy for the process of presidential selection. Mezey is an editorial board member of Legislative Studies Quarterly and gives frequent interviews to local and national news media. He has published books on Congress and the U.S. presidency. Mezey can be reached at 773-896-6766 or  

Political polarization
Wayne Steger, Professor of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
 Steger can speak about presidential nominations, election forecasting, media coverage of presidential campaigns, voting behavior and campaign finance. “The intense polarization of the political parties and the strength of partisan identification means that the vast majority of people have already made their decision and know who they will vote for this fall. The big questions are who will vote or stay home, and what will this election mean for the party coalitions,” said Steger. He can be reached at 773-325-4240 or  

Elections and public opinion
Erik Tillman, Associate Professor of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. 
Tillman is an expert on elections, primaries and public opinion. "The outcome of the general election will depend on the following two questions. First, most partisans will 'fall in line' and vote for their party's candidates — with few voting for the other party's candidate — but will either candidate suffer enough defections to third parties, or from those not voting, to affect the result? Second, how will circumstances such as the economy, terrorism, and other issues change voters' perceptions of whether the country is on the right track? The more that voters are confident and hopeful, the more likely they are to vote for a continuation of Obama's policies." Tillman can be reached at

Role of journalism, social media
Benjamin Epstein, Assistant Professor of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Epstein calls presidential debates the “Super Bowls” of campaign media coverage. “They attract the largest unified viewing audience, and now with the increase in social media use, viewers are looking at two screens during these events — the TV and their phones. These are increasingly interactive affairs,” he said. Epstein researches American politics, including political communication strategies, campaigns and elections, electoral participation among various demographic groups and racial and ethnic politics. In his forthcoming book, "The Political Communication Cycle," Epstein explores the technological, behavioral and political roles that interact in the recurring process of political communication change. “The current period of rapid political communication change actually has a long history that can help provide insights into how, why and when various political actors innovate their strategies and where our political communication practices might be headed,” he said. Epstein can be reached at

Press and the presidency
Bruce Evensen, Professor of Journalism, College of Communication.
Like Reagan, Trump needs to cross the 'presidential plausibility' line in his debate with Clinton,” said Evensen. "People always talk about the Nixon-Kennedy debate where Nixon looked so washed out and ill. That tipped the scales and probably gave Kennedy the narrow margin he needed. People tend not to mention the Carter-Reagan debate, held on the eve of the 1980 election. The election was quite close and Reagan's question, 'Are you better off now than you were four years ago?' reminded voters of their discontent. He had passed the plausibility bar and wound up winning,” he said. Evensen teaches a course on “The Press and the Presidency” and can speak to the role of mass media in presidential campaigns, including how candidates attempt to use the news media, and how media use the candidates in the presidential race to garner page views. Evensen can be reached at 312-362-7616 or

Political marketing
Bruce Newman, Professor of Marketing, Driehaus College of Business. 
"In 2012, Barack Obama won the popular vote with a 3 percent margin but the electoral college vote with a 30 percent margin. In 2016, Hillary will win the electoral college vote with a similar margin because she now owns the big data file and micro-targeting tools that will allow her to pinpoint appeals to voters sitting on the fence,” said Newman. An expert in the application of marketing technology to politics, Newman’s book “The Marketing Revolution in Politics” explores how recent U.S. presidential campaigns have adopted the latest marketing techniques, learning from the winning formulas President Barack Obama’s campaigns pioneered. Newman was a communication adviser to the senior staff in the Clinton White House in 1995 and 1996. He is the author of several books on the subject, including “The Marketing of the President,” and is editor of the Journal of Political Marketing. Newman can be reached at 312-362-5186 or

Fandom, social media
Paul Booth, Associate Professor of Media and Cinema Studies, College of Computing and Digital Media.
Booth is an expert in the use of social media and how candidates use it to reach their fans. “One of the most effective uses of social media in this election is to garner fans,” said Booth. “Candidates will have to appeal to different groups at different times.” Booth can be reached at 312-362-7753 or

Kathleen Arnold, Political Scientist, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Arnold is a political theorist and immigration expert who has written on the use of executive authority under the Obama administration and previous administrations. “The presidential election is heavily focused on immigrants and immigration. While current debates are interesting, most are fairly inaccurate,” Arnold said. “For example, black and white terms such as legal and illegal do not fairly represent the lives and conditions of immigrants. While introducing punitive measures for criminals is logical, criminalizing immigrants may not be so logical or even moral," she said. Arnold can be reached at 773-325-4736 or

The Latino vote
Maria De Moya, Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication, College of Communication. De Moya can discuss how public relations campaigns target ethnic communities, specifically Latinos. She studies how immigrants are treated in the media, as well as how ethnic organizations communicate. She believes presidential candidates are portraying Latinos as “saints or sinners,” polar opposite stereotypes that will alienate many Latino voters. She can speak to issues that matter to Latinos and effective messages that will resonate with voters. De Moya is fluent in Spanish and can be reached at 312-362-6099 or

Michael Miller, Associate Professor of Economics, Driehaus College of Business. An expert in the areas of monetary and fiscal policy decisions, Miller believes the key to economic success going forward is economic growth, not income redistribution. “Government fiscal policy must be devised so as to allow the American economic engine to grow at its full potential, which will be rooted most firmly in the encouragement of entrepreneurship,” said Miller. “The funding of social programs and having workers realize the fruits of their hard work cannot occur without this growth.” Miller can be reached at 312-362-8477 or

Margaret Storey, Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Storey is a historian who researches the Civil War and American history. “There are interesting parallels between the pre-Civil War political environment and our own,” she said. “Our system is built on compromise, but when compromise doesn’t happen, politics — or the art of the possible — itself can break down. Leading up to the Civil War, similarly intransigent positions forced changes in the party structure and the way that politics was conducted, and those changes had dramatic, and often unanticipated, consequences.” She can be reached at 773-325-7482 or


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