By Cornell W. Clayton, Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government anddirector of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University
The presidential campaign begins in earnest this week as 20 Democrats debate each other in Miami over who should take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election.
Is it possible to predict the 2020 election before a single primary vote is even cast?
Disregarding Yogi Berra’s sage advice to “never make predictions, especially about the future,” here’s how a political scientist would do it.
First, I would explain that contrary to popular belief the polls in 2016 were pretty accurate. Nine of the ten major tracking polls predicted Clinton would win the popular vote, which she did by 3 million votes. Eight predicted her vote share within their margins of error.
The polls also accurately predicted the Electoral College in all but one state, Wisconsin. In six states, polls were too close to call, so they were “toss-ups.” Five of these ended up voting Trump. But the election turned on just three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where the combined margin for Trump was about 86,000 votes, less than half of 1%.
The lesson from 2016 isn’t to doubt the polls. It’s when polls tell you it’s too close to call, you should believe them!
Onstage in front of California Democrats during the first weekend in June, Bernie Sanders warned that there is “no middle ground” on issues such as abortion and health care, taking a thinly veiled swipe at fellow presidential candidate Joe Biden. Soon after, Sanders’s campaign and online grassroots supporters, including ones in a behind-the-scenes Slack group devoted to his support, began to spread a #NoMiddleGround hashtag across the internet, and it started trending. By Monday, volunteers in that Slack channel had created a “No Middle Ground” Facebook group, complete with custom graphics, which they used to spread his message even further.
It’s an example of the power of Sanders’s online edge. He may have lost the Democratic nomination in 2016, but his campaign’s online savvy was on par with that of Donald Trump, who harnessed populist support on social media (not to mention an assist from Russia) to help catapult himself to the White House.
Digital strategy in politics is focused on raising money and adding to email lists, not necessarily persuading undecided voters, according to Travis Ridout, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University. The money politicians raise through digital they can then use for television ads, which, while less targeted, may be more successful in reaching and persuading broad swaths of voters — it’s harder to skip over a TV commercial than an online video.
The Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) and the Office of Research are pleased to announce eight faculty members are recipients of the 2019 Arts and Humanities Fellowships. The fellowship program awarded a total of $62,320 to faculty representing Fine Arts, the School of Music, the Department of History, Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs and the School of Design and Construction. Each project supports faculty professional goals and advances university‑wide arts and humanities initiatives. The fellowships will support exhibitions, music recordings, research travel, and course releases. Many of these activities will lead to publications. In addition to their individual efforts, the Fellows will meet for monthly discussions, hosted by the CAH.
This is the third year in which CAH and the Office of Research have awarded the fellowships. In April 2019, the Board of Regents gave formal approval for the center. With this recognition, the CAH will continue the fellowship program and further expand and advance arts and humanities at WSU through speakers, seminars, and other activities.
“This year’s fellowships reaffirm the vibrancy, relevance, and creativity of the arts and humanities at WSU,” said Todd Butler, director of the CAH. “Particularly impressive is the fact that most if not all of the fellowship winners envision a public component to their projects. This is land‑grant work in action.”
Kirstjen Michele Nielsen, an American attorney and national security expert, abruptly resigned on 7 April as the U.S. Homeland Security secretary. According to Cornell Clayton, a professor at the Washington State University, “this is further evidence of the disarray within the administration over the border crisis and Trump’s frustration with what he saw as her inability to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.”
According to the academic, the southern border controversy continues to escalate within the Trump administration. While “hard-liners,” like Stephen Miller, want to double down on tough rhetoric and “tough policies,” there are those who “want to find some bipartisan solution to the border crisis and to immigration policies more generally,” Clayton said. He added that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was “trying to negotiate a broader immigration deal with Democrats behind the scenes”
“The confusion became crystal clear this week,” the professor opined. “Trump threatened to close the border with Mexico but was then forced to back away from that position just six days later by Congressional Republicans and others in the administration who know it would be economically disastrous.”
Body-worn cameras increase the public’s ability to scrutinize police officers and their actions, increasing transparency and accountability. But the cameras and management of the video they produce come with tangible costs, while academic research is mixed about whether they increase the quality of policing.
A fair number of law enforcement agencies in Washington have deployed body-worn cameras, including the Seattle, Pullman, and Pasco police departments.
But some wonder if camera programs are worth the cost.
“The cost is a tremendous amount of money to just hold police accountable. We already do have mechanisms in place to hold them accountable,” said David Makin, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University. “If you don’t trust them, then we’ve already failed. (Cameras) shouldn’t be the go-to for police accountability.”
Law enforcement agencies shouldn’t deploy cameras for the sake of appearances but should, rather, look at how they can “integrate this into what we do so we can do better for our community,” Makin said. “If you don’t do that, then you’re just wasting your money.”