UC Davis Media Sources on Election 2020

UC Davis Offers Variety of Experts Through Inauguration

With the 2020 presidential elections continuing in the news, University of California, Davis, offers sources for media on issues related to elections — from leadership, to political parties, to voting methods, conspiracy theories and the economy. Faculty expertise includes political science, sociology, history, economics, law, race, management, technology, psychology, various sciences and others.

We also have sources who can address female candidates, how they are portrayed and the history of women in politics.

This guide will be updated regularly throughout the election cycle. This list was updated up through January 2021.

Elections, electoral systems, voting behavior, race and elections

Christopher Hare, assistant professor of political science, blogs on applying spatial models to current questions and issues in American politics at voteviewblog.com. He has also consulted for political campaigns on statistical modeling issues. 

Hare’s substantive research agenda focuses on ideology and voting behavior in the American electorate, campaign strategy, and political polarization. Methodologically, his work focuses on measurement theory and ideal point estimation, Bayesian methods, and the application of machine learning techniques to model political behavior. He also studies swing voters. Contact: 530-754-0942, cdhare@ucdavis.edu

Lecturer of political science Isaac Hale focuses on electoral systems, legislative representation, political behavior and public opinion. His dissertation project focuses on how electoral systems shape electoral outcomes and candidate behavior. He is also involved in projects analyzing how racial attitudes affect voter behavior and legislative representation, particularly in recent U.S. elections. In a recent study, “Racial attitudes & political cross-pressures in nationalized elections: The case of the Republican coalition in the Trump era,” co-authored with Carlos Algara, University of Texas-El Paso, he found that there continue to be large numbers of racially conservative Democrats who can be persuaded to vote for Republicans candidates. Contact: idhale@ucdavis.edu

James F. Adams, associate professor of political science, studies voting behavior, parties' election strategies, and mass-elite linkages in Western Europe and the United States. His work encompasses spatial models of party competition, and empirical analyses of parties' policy programs and of election outcomes. He recently co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post about voters’ opinions about “the other side” in elections. His latest book is American Affective Polarization in Comparative PerspectiveCambridge University Press (2020)Contact: jfadams@ucdavis.edu

Presidential transitions

Lawsuits, challenges to vote count

Ashutosh (Ash) Bhagwat, the Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality and Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at the School of Law, can address the validity of Donald Trump’s lawsuits regarding the voting process and election. Bhagwat practiced appellate and regulatory law for two years in the Washington, D.C. offices of the Sidley & Austin law firm. He has written about a variety of subjects ranging from the structure of constitutional rights, to free speech law, to the California Electricity Crisis. Contact: aabhagwat@ucdavis.edu

The New Deal, historic presidencies, electoral college

Eric Rauchway, distinguished professor of history, is an expert on the New Deal and the Second World War, and is prepared to talk about politics and policies designed to thwart fascism.

He commented this spring in a Huffington Post article that compared President Hoover’s presidency to Trump’s, citing failures to act and use presidential authorities in a crisis. He explained how presidential transitions work in the podcast featured in this article, citing the transition from Hoover to Roosevelt as a troubling one. He is interviewed in this Politifact article, as well, about how two things, historically, doom former presidents seeking a second term: a bad economy and significant events that get out of control.

He has contributed to The New York Times and The Washington Post and appeared on BBC Radio 4 and NPR. His books include Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal (2018) and The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace (2015). Contact: 530-754-1646, earauchway@ucdavis.edu

Constitutional law, treason, impeachment

Carlton Larson, professor of law, is a scholar of American constitutional law and Anglo-American legal history. His scholarship addresses a wide range of issues, including enemy combatant detentions, legacy preferences in public universities, the historical basis of Second Amendment rights, and parents’ rights to name their children. 

Larson is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the law of treason and is the author of the book The Trials of Allegiance: Treason, Juries, and the American Revolution (Oxford University Press). He talks about his book in this video.

His scholarship has been cited by numerous federal and state courts and has been profiled in The New York Times, The Economist, TIME, and many other publications. He is a frequent commentator for the national media on constitutional law issues. He appeared on the PBS series "Open Mind" in December.

Contact: 530-754-5731, clarson@ucdavis.edu

Leadership and inconsistency

Kim Elsbach, Stephen G. Newberry Chair in Leadership in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, studies how organizations, their leaders and individuals acquire and maintain images, identities and reputations. She is the author of the book, Organizational Perception Management. Elsbach says, “People in Western society do not like inconsistency in their leaders. It’s what gets a lot of leaders tripped up. There is so much pressure on leaders to be consistent that it outweighs the need to make the right decision or to be accurate.” Contact: 530-752-0910, kdelsbach@ucdavis.edu

Presidency and the Supreme Court

Aaron Tang, professor of law, has commented to media recently on matters concerning the U.S. Supreme Court and presidential appointments. Most recently, he wrote "How to Fix the Supreme Court" in the New York Times. His teaching and research interests include constitutional law, federal courts and education law. His article “Rethinking Political Power in Judicial Review,” won the American Association of Law Schools 2018 Scholarly Paper Competition. Tang also writes frequently about the Supreme Court for broader popular audiences. Contact: 203-507-4715, aatang@ucdavis.edu

Election law

Christopher Elmendorf, professor of law, has teaching and research interests that include election law, property and land-use law, statutory interpretation and administrative law. Contact: cselmendorf@ucdavis.edu

Conspiracy theories; roots of modern conservatism

Professor of history Kathryn S. Olmsted has long investigated conspiracy theories, from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11, and many that have cropped up since, even during the primary and general elections. She authored Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (2009); it was reissued this year with a new epilogue on the Trump era. She has also written op-eds comparing Watergate and the Trump impeachment inquiry in The New York Times and Washington Post.

In her recent research, she also has re-examined the labor disputes in Depression-era California that led California’s businessmen and media to create a new style of politics with corporate funding, intelligence gathering, professional campaign consultants and alliances between religious and economic conservatives. She has been featured in various podcasts and other media, and commented about modern conservatism in this podcast. Her 2015 book is Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism. Contact: 530-752-7764, ksolmsted@ucdavis.edu

Climate and diplomacy

Many experts on climate, natural resources, water availability and other issues are available on this list.

Tariffs and trade, the economy

UC Davis has experts on agricultural and corporate tariffs, and their effects on consumers, in a tariffs and trade expert list. Professor of Economics Kadee Russ, on this list, can discuss the selection of Janet Yellen as head of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Women, politics, voting rights

Lisa G. Materson, associate professor of history, is a specialist in U.S. women’s political history. She has researched the history of African American women’s mobilization as voters, suffragists, canvassers and candidates. African American women were at the forefront of the struggle for voting rights during the 19th and 20th centuries, and it is this longstanding leadership that helped to pave a political path for the election of President Barack Obama, she wrote in a blog article. She also did a UC Davis Live broadcast on the role of history in current elections. She has written and spoken about the role of Puerto Rico in the current and past elections. She is author of the 2009 book For the Freedom of Her Race: Black Women and Electoral Politics in Illinois, 1877-1932. She is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of American Women’s and Gender History. Contact: lgmaterson@ucdavis.edu

Lisa Materson UC Davis Live
Lisa Materson is interviewed by Soterios Johnson on UC Davis Live. 

How female candidates are portrayed, evaluated

Rachel Bernhard is an assistant professor of political science who studies how female candidates are portrayed and evaluated. She received her doctoral degree in political science from UC Berkeley where she looked at how voters evaluate female candidates for office, particularly in low-information environments. She also served as postdoctoral prize fellow in politics at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford. In fall 2019 she taught a graduate seminar entitled “Identity and Discrimination in U.S. Politics.” She previously taught graduate courses on computational methods and undergraduate courses on research design and methods, political psychology, and democratic accountability. She worked for a few years in public health and education. Contact: ribernhard@ucdavis.edu

Vice president-elect Harris, leadership, race, gender

Additional experts specifically related to Biden’s historic choice of Kamala Harris are listed here. UC Davis research on the gender gap, elections and women’s history in the electorate is available here. 

Social media

How media use and political talk influence the political divide

Magdalena Wojcieszak, professor of communication at UC Davis and associate researcher (ERC SG PI), University of Amsterdam, co-wrote an article about the Democratic primaries after Kamala Harris dropped out of the race. The article, “What Kamala Harris supporters’ media consumption habits say about who they might support next in the Democratic presidential primary” was published in the United States Politics and Policy Blog, London School of Economics. She also co-authored an op-ed in The Conversation, “Trump Supporters Have Little Trust in Societal Institutions.” Wojcieszak is interested in how the changing media environment creates both opportunities and challenges for informed publics, tolerant citizenry, and responsive governance. She also researches the role of social media in elections. Read this story about her research. Contact: mwojcieszak@ucdavis.edu 

Cuihua (Cindy) Shen studies people's behaviors in online social networks and virtual worlds. Recently, she has taken an interest in the reaction to and diffusion of online misinformation and how it can be corrected, especially misinformation in multimedia format (see a recent paper here). During the election, she has commented on twitter's efforts to correct misinformation spread by President Trump and his campaign. She commented in this story in Adweek Magazine.

Left, liberal and social democratic politics

Stephanie L. Mudge, associate professor of sociology, has studied and been interviewed on left, liberal, and social democratic politics in the U.S. and abroad. She is a historical, political and economic sociologist specializing in the theoretically driven analysis of Western politics, economies and economic expertise. She is a member of the executive committee of the Social Science History Association, secretary-treasurer of the American Sociological Association’s Political Sociology Section, and is on the editorial boards of the Socio-Economic Review and Social Science History.

Mudge’s award-winning book, Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties From Socialism to Neoliberalism (2018, Harvard University Press), develops a century-long comparative, historical and biographically sensitive analysis of the American Democrats, the German and Swedish Social Democrats, and the British Labour Party. She has also published on European integration, the European Central Bank and the history of neoliberalism. Contact: slmudge@ucdavis.edu

Corporate political activity

Accounting professor Hollis A. Skaife, of the Graduate School of Management, researches financial reporting issues and corporate governance topics, including the consequences of companies’ spending in political activities. In one study she and a co-author examined the reputational risks in the opportunities that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling created for managers to spend unlimited, and potentially undisclosed, firm resources on independent political expenditures, or IPEs. These opportunities include channeling “dark money,” which is untraceable, through certain nonprofits and trade associations. The research found that it is the structure of a firm’s governance — the concentration of decision rights — that may cause shareholders to walk away when they are unable to hold the firm accountable for its political spending. She is a former practicing certified public accountant. Contact: 608-692-1082, haskaife@ucdavis.edu

Taxes, tax revolts, property taxes

School of Law Professor Darien Shanske has conducted multiple media interviews on property taxes, tax revolts and California propositions that propose to change tax formulas. His academic interests include taxation, particularly state and local taxation, local government law, public finance, and political theory, particularly jurisprudence. Some of his current projects are on the local property tax, the state and local fiscal relationship, the fiscal constitution of California, and the role of reciprocity in Aristotle. Contact: 530-752-5860, dshanske@ucdavis.edu

Electronic voting and computer security

Matt Bishop, professor of computer science at UC Davis and co-director of the Computer Security Lab, can discuss security issues around electronic voting systems. Bishop has participated in several reviews of electronic voting systems, including the RABA Study and the review of the systems used in the 2006 Florida election in Congressional District 13. He was a co-principal investigator for the California Secretary of State’s “Top to Bottom Review” of certified voting machines in 2007. He was also a member of the Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board (California). Bishop co-directs the Computer Security Laboratory at UC Davis, recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a center of academic excellence. The second edition of his textbook Computer Security: Art and Science was published last year. Contact: 530-752-8060, mabishop@ucdavis.edu

Technology, surveillance

Elizabeth Joh, professor of law, has written widely about policing, technology and surveillance. Her scholarship has appeared in various law reviews. She has also provided commentary for the Los Angeles TimesSlate, and The New York Times. She has a podcast with Roman Mars entitled, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law. Contact: 530-752-2756​, eejoh@ucdavis.edu

Economics and poverty

UC Davis has experts on various poverty issues, including work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and other safety net programs. Professors Marianne Bitler (safety net, including Food Stamps/SNAP, WIC, TANF, EITC), poverty, and Marianne Page (poverty and impacts on children) are economists associated with the UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research. Their bios and contact information, and those of other experts in the field, can be found on the poverty expert list. See also the tax source list.


Immigration detention, undocumented youth, undocumented immigration, DACA, immigration policy

Caitlin Patler, assistant professor of sociology, can discuss issues related to immigration, including immigration policy, immigration reform, immigration detention (including conditions of confinement and spillover impacts of detention), deportation, DACA, and the situation of undocumented youth and families. She can also comment on such topics as the social and health consequences of revoking DACA and TPS, and the general social costs of noncitizenship. Her research is informed by 20 years of work in immigrants’ rights organizations focused on immigration detention, access to education for undocumented youth and low-wage labor markets. Contact: patler@ucdavis.edu

Immigration policy and civil rights

Kevin Johnson, dean and the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicano/a Studies at the UC Davis School of Law, is one of the nation’s leading immigration law scholars. He is co-editor of the influential Immigration Prof Blog. Contact: (530) 752-0243, krjohnson@ucdavis.edu.

Additional immigration experts are available on this list.

‘Sticky negativity’ and politics

Research by Alison Ledgerwood, a professor of psychology and the principal investigator for the Attitudes and Group Identity Lab, studies framing effects, or how people process information based on how it’s presented to them. She can address “sticky negativity” and how it relates to politics. This is the idea that negative campaigning works. The beauty of negative attacks — from a campaign standpoint — is that they influence everyone. Even a candidate’s supporters will be affected by negative attacks, Ledgerwood and her collaborators have found.

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Hellman Family Foundation. She has served as an associate editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Perspectives on Psychological Science. Contact: aledgerwood@ucdavis.edu

Tax reform and overhaul, including Earned Income Tax Credit

See the tax source list, which includes law, management and economics faculty.


Media Resources

Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

Primary Category