From the UCLA Newsroom:
UCLA has launched The Sprint, a blog by UCLA faculty experts from various disciplines aimed at providing scholarly analysis and commentary in the heated last stretch of the 2008 presidential election. The blog provides an unfiltered forum for faculty to showcase their research, reflect their expertise and engage in meaningful discourse on election issues.
Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs; political scientists; public policy experts; education professors; a medical doctor; and selected graduate students are contributing to The Sprint. The analysis and opinions are those of the bloggers, who represent a variety of research interests and political philosophies. Blog content is not edited or endorsed by the university.
The Sprint can be found on the UCLA Newsroom website at www.newsroom.ucla.edu/electionblog. Visitors may subscribe to the RSS feed and post their comments on the blog.
Among the highlights so far:
Gilliam warns that social science equations showing that Sen. Barack Obama should win handily don't account for the so-called fourth-quarter effect. "You see, people aren't sure if Obama can really handle the job of head coach," he blogs. "They aren't sure if the plays that worked in the first half are solid down the stretch, that he can call timeout at the appropriate time, or devise a clever play to get the last shot."
Dr. David Zingmond, an expert on public health, wonders what role empathy plays in the candidates' approach to health care. "Do our politicians understand in a fundamental way what their policy decisions mean for the rank and file of our nation," he writes, "and if they do, how do they behave? Empathy is a powerful emotion."
Lynn Vavreck, assistant professor of political science, explains that people across the country have projected their hopes and fears about working women on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. "There's not a woman I know who thinks she has nailed the balance between education, career, and motherhood," she writes. "No one is sure they got it right ... And I just can't decide whether that's progress."
Ryan Enos, a political science graduate student, and his colleagues polled students on the "facial competence" of hundreds of politicians. Palin rated in the top 5 percent and Republican candidates in
general scored higher on attractiveness than Democratic candidates. "There is a buzz about whether Palin's looks will help her move from Juneau to Washington," he writes. "An honest political scientist will tell you that they do not know the answer to that question." Enos also reports on research that tries to answer this provocative question: "Does it make a difference if smart people are in the White House?"
The Sprint name refers to the final eight-week dash to the Nov. 4 election. Other UCLA blog participants include:
Patricia Gándara, professor of education
Mark A.R. Kleiman, professor of public policy
Paul Ong, professor of urban planning
Gary Orfield, professor of education
Mark Sawyer, associate professor of political science
Amy Zegart, associate professor of public policy
Tim Groeling, assistant professor of communication studies
Michael Tesler, political science graduate student
Biographies and further information on the bloggers may be found on the blog.