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2020 News


James Druckman & Jennifer Lin | As Latest Relief Package Passes, 1 in 5 Americans Confronts Severe Economic Hardships

December 21, 2020 – from Northwestern Institute for Policy Research
Between November 3 and 30, the researchers asked roughly 20,000 individuals across the United States and Washington, D.C. about five key economic hardships: unemployment, pay cuts, evictions, making rent or a house payment, and stopping or cutting work to take care of children. The two biggest hardships reported nationally were losing a job (18%) and taking a pay cut (18%). While only 3% of those surveyed reported they had been evicted, 13% said they had missed a rent or mortgage payment. Nearly 10% said they had stopped working, or cut back their hours, to stay at home and take care of their children. “These results highlight the economic pain that COVID-19 has caused—a consequence that could reverberate long after the pandemic itself is under control,” said IPR political scientist James Druckman.

Laurel Harbridge Yong | Biden Wants to Bring Democrats and Republicans Together. Here’s Why That’s So Challenging.

December 21, 2020 – from The Washington Post
"When President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, he’ll face very narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress. Depending on who wins the runoff elections for Georgia’s Senate seats, Democrats will either have slim majorities in both houses of Congress or the parties will split control of the House and Senate. Either way, lawmakers will have to compromise to pass legislation on pressing issues such as the pandemic and the associated economic crisis, climate change, racial justice and immigration. Many argue that partisan disagreements between Democrats and Republicans limit the prospects for bipartisan dealmaking. But there’s another possible roadblock. As our new research shows, legislators often reject compromise because they believe it puts their reelection at risk."

Lida Maxwell | A Discussion of Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum’s A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy

December 17, 2020 – from Perspectives on Politics
"In A Lot of People Are Saying, Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum negotiate a similar problem in their indictment of what they call the “new conspiracism.” They argue that the “new conspiracism” is dangerous to democracy because it’s the wrong kind of skepticism about truth: 'Its fabulations sever the connection between assertions and beliefs on the one hand and anything verifiable in the world on the other. This immunizes conspiracist claims from scrutiny and doubt. What follows is that the new conspiracists undercut not only knowledge but also skepticism' (p. 116). The new conspiracism pretends to be a form of democratic skepticism, but it is actually, on their account, a kind of tribalism, in which people affirm their identity through affirming conspiracist claims."

Anthony Chen | The History of Diversity as an Educational Value

December 16, 2020 – from Northwestern Institute for Policy Research
In November, an appellate court ruled on the latest challenge to the use of race in college admissions, agreeing with the lower court that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that Harvard intentionally discriminated against Asian American students. With the Supreme Court likely to hear an appeal, new research sheds new light on the origins of affirmative action and underscores how its being overturned could drastically set back diversity on college campuses. This idea that diversity is educationally valuable—or the “diversity rationale”—is often seen as coming out of the seminal 1978 Regents of California v. Bakke Supreme Court case. But IPR sociologist Anthony S. Chen and co-author Lisa Stulberg of New York University find it started much earlier. In Bakke, the court struck down racial quotas in the admissions process, but held that race could still be used to foster racial diversity.

Alvin Tillery | Race, Ethnicity, & Politics Speaker Series: Performance of Power: Putting the Black Lives Matter Movement in Context

December 4, 2020 – from USD News Center
The Department of Political Science and International Relations, would like to invite you to participate in the 2020-2021 USD Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Speaker Series. This is the inaugural year of the series as it aims to examine the power of race and ethnicity to shape society and politics at the local level, at the international level, and comparatively. Our third and final speaker of Fall 2020, Dr. Alvin B. Tillery, Jr. will discuss, Performance of Power: Putting the Black Lives Matter Movement in Context. Dr. Tillery's research is in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research in American politics focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics.


D.J. Flynn | More Accurate, But No Less Polarized: Comparing the Factual Beliefs of Government Officials and the Public

November 24, 2020 – from British Journal of Political Science
The results indicate that political elites are consistently more accurately informed than the public across a wide range of politically contentious facts. However, this increase in accuracy does not translate into reduced factual belief polarization. These findings demonstrate that a more informed political elite does not necessarily mitigate partisan factual disagreement in policy making.

Erin Lockwood | The Antisemitic Backlash to Financial Power: Conspiracy Theory as a Response to Financial Complexity and Crisis

November 23, 2020 – from New Political Economy
"This article argues that the role of antisemitism in the populist backlash to financial power represents an empirical blind spot in IPE. I argue that the uncertainty and complexity of finance is such that attributing responsibility for financial crises and disruption is difficult within the conventional narratives people use to make sense of power. When people struggle to gain traction over the scale and workings of a system that is opaque, complex, entrenched, and seemingly unassailable, their reactions to the economic dislocation that financial power brings about find targets among already marginalized groups. This has, in turn, fueled opposition to financial power from both the right and left that draws upon – sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly – antisemitic tropes and narratives. A longer historical lens on populist reactions to financial innovation reveals the longstanding.

Tulia Falleti | Invisible to Political Science: Indigenous Politics in a World in Flux

November 18, 2020 – from The Journal of Politics
"'No Justice on Stolen Land' is the opening phrase of Robert Nichols’s fascinating book Theft Is Property. I read the book in the wake of the inhumane killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and Rayshard Brooks, as the chant 'no justice, no peace' reverberates in the streets of cities and towns across the United States and the world. These are two related and unresolved demands for justice. In the United States, the only group more exposed to police violence than Black Americans is Native Americans.1 To study Indigenous politics in the current political context—in the midst of a pandemic that because of systemic inequalities disproportionately kills Blacks, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color and where human-produced climate change threatens our collective—means to peel back another layer of the system of white supremacy and exploitation."

Jeffrey Winters | How Policy Failures On The Left And Right Led To The Trump Presidency

November 16, 2020 – from WBEZ Chicago
Joe Biden won the White House, but 73 million people voted for President Trump — 10 million more than voted for him in 2016. Reset examines why and what they have in common with a plurality of Democratic voters. GUEST: Jeffrey Winters, former chair of political science, director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies Program at Northwestern University; author of the book Oligarchy.

Daniel J. Galvin | Democrats Are Already at Odds Over How to Win in 2022

November 13, 2020 – from Vox
Political science research backs up what O’Rourke and Ocasio-Cortez have said: The Democratic Party has traditionally been lackluster in year-round organizing efforts compared with Republicans. “The Democratic Party has historically always lagged behind the Republican Party in terms of building up its organizational capacities,” Northwestern University political science professor Daniel Galvin told Vox. “This is a recurring problem for the Democratic Party, and as everyone’s trying to figure out a way forward, we’re trying to point out the importance of building the base.”

Sally Nuamah | Thanking Black Women for Being the 'Backbone' of American Democracy Isn't Enough. There Must be Policies Created With Us in Mind

November 12, 2020 – from The Root
Sen. Kamala Harris made headlines when she pronounced and acknowledged the important role of Black women in both casting their ballots for Joe Biden—thus earning him the title “president-elect”—and also serving as “the backbone of our democracy” during her first speech as vice president-elect. Yes, Black women’s seemingly unwavering support for Democrats favors the political party time and again. But it’s important to acknowledge where much of this support stems from. “Black women aren’t just voting to save the party for the party’s sake,” said Sally Nuamah, Ph.D., a professor at Northwestern. “They actually don’t have a lot of other choices. We are in a two-party system and we have a Republican Party that, for example, will put the Voting Rights Act on the table. And we know that Black women, unlike white women, weren’t able to vote until the Voting Rights Act was passed."

James Druckman, Daniel Galvin, Laurel Harbridge-Yong & Chloe Thurston | Professors Talk Polarization, Misinformation at Post-Election Panel

November 9, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research hosted a post-election panel Monday where professors discussed how polarization, misinformation, the economy and social movements impacted the election and will continue to influence politics. IPR has hosted a follow-up after every presidential election, inviting faculty with expertise on topics related to presidential campaigns and elections. The event was part of an interdisciplinary colloquium series organized by IPR associate director and political science Prof. James Druckman. Druckman began the session by discussing the rise of negative partisanship, or voters’ animosity for the opposing party. He said the positive outcomes of the election included the lack of mass violence, effective vote counting, social media monitoring and record-setting voter turnout.

Reuel Rogers & Julie Lee Merseth | Panelists Discuss Impact of 2020 Presidential Election on BIPOC Communities

November 6, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
“Racial polarization is so pronounced in our two-party system,” Rogers said. “I think that tends to obscure the level of political diversity among African Americans.” “It’s deeply painful for those of us who care about the communities that are the targets of his ideologies,” Merseth said. “No matter what the final election results are, whether he wins or loses, we are going to have to put one foot forward in front of the next to deal with the context that we’re in.”

Alvin Tillery | Backlash to Racial Progress': For Some, Trump's Strong Showing Is a Sign That Bigotry Prevails

November 5, 2020 – from WickedLocal
Alvin Tillery, director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, said he didn’t expect the widespread calls for an end to systemic racism that reverberated through summer demonstrations would carry over to the ballot box. “I’ve always been somewhat skeptical about the translation of Millennial activism and Gen Z activism into votes,’’ Tillery said. “For them, protesting and voting and posting online, it’s all pretty much in the same realm. So you may have people who went out and protested for 30, 40, 50 days, but didn’t vote.’’

Amanda D'Urso | Race Politics Research and the American Presidency: Thinking About White Attitudes, Identities and Vote Choice in the Trump Era and Beyond

November 3, 2020 – from Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
"Heeding the call of the special issue, we look at the past decade's advances in public opinion studies of our understanding of the relationship between white racial identities, attitudes, and presidential voting preferences. Following a short review of developments in the literature during the Obama years, we critically evaluated four theories explaining whites' support for Trump: racial resentment, xenophobia, sexism, and white identity. Using data from three ANES studies, we test the relative explanatory power of all four approaches in predicting a vote for Trump during the 2016 Republican primary, the 2016 election, and intent to vote for him in 2020. The results suggest that xenophobia had the most consistent effect across all models, followed by racial resentment and sexism."

Traci Burch | How Does Exposure to Police Force Affect Political Engagement

November 2, 2020 – from Researching Law
As Burch noted during the Fireside Chat, her findings indicate that not all officer-involved killings motivate an interest in politics. Instead, she identifies two key factors surrounding an incident necessary to shape political interest: visibility and framing. "First, you have to know about an event," says Burch. "Then you have to think it’s a problem. Only then can we think about how resources and mobilization can come together to show up as political activity."


Laurel Harbridge-Yong | Are Bipartisan Lawmakers More Effective?

October 31, 2020 – from Center for Effective Lawmaking
"We find that such bipartisanship increases members’ legislative effectiveness overall, and especially helps in moving legislation through committee and on the floor. We show these patterns to be robust to both majority-party and minority-party lawmakers and across congressional eras. We also demonstrate the value of reciprocity, in that members of Congress who offer cosponsorships across party lines are more likely to also attract such bipartisan cosponsors to their own bills. Collectively, these results imply that engaging in bipartisan behaviors contributes to a virtuous cycle: those who cosponsor across party lines attract cross-party cosponsors to their own bills, which translates into greater legislative success for their agendas."

Alvin Tillery | Don’t Give In to ‘Election Stress Disorder’

October 31, 2020 – from The New York Times
From the droves of people voting by mail to the widespread protests for racial justice to the pandemic and worries about the electoral process itself, the 2020 election cycle provides “a recipe for a lot of angst” on Election Day, according to Alvin Bernard Tillery Jr., a professor of political science at Northwestern University. “Chip, chip, chip, chip, chip away over conversations based in fact,” Dr. Tillery said, “and asking them what they think is morally right.”

James Druckman & Mary McGrath | Americans Hate Political Opponents More Than They Love Their Own Party, Study Finds

October 29, 2020 – from CNN
Americans have long felt affection for people who share their political views. On a "feeling thermometer" scale, where 0 degrees is cold, 50 degrees is neutral and 100 degrees is warm, feelings toward fellow Democrats or Republicans over the decades have consistently hovered in the 70-degree range. Feelings toward people in the opposing party, however, plummeted from 48 degrees in the 1970s to 20 degrees today, the authors said. "Things have gotten much more severe in the past decade, and there is no sign we've hit bottom," said coauthor James Druckman, a political science professor at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern, in a statement.

Ian Hurd & Alvin Tillery | How Life Has Changed

October 19, 2020 – from Northwestern Magazine
“Once the coronavirus crisis has ebbed, we may find a world that is poorer, more fragmented and harder to navigate. Local conditions will matter a great deal. Disparities between poor and rich are likely to be even starker, among countries but even more so among regions and classes within countries," Ian Hurd said. “African Americans continue to have unequal life chances more than 50 years after the Kerner Commission proclaimed, ‘Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one white — separate and unequal.’ The sad thing is that we are fully capable of fixing these inequalities, but we lack the political will to do it," Alvin Tillery said.

Alvin Tillery | What the Rush to Confirm Amy Coney Barrett Is Really About

October 15, 2020 – from The Atlantic
It’s not hard to see a collision ahead between a conservative Supreme Court majority and the priorities of those younger Americans, including climate change, racial equity, voting rights, gun control, and protections for same-sex couples. “This focus on judgeships that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell has put in place is really the only way” that conservatives can see of “guaranteeing their ideological priorities,” Alvin Tillery, the director of Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, stated.

Samara Klar | Why Would a Republican Vote Biden? Ask Arizonans

October 15, 2020 – from The New York Times
"What partisans want is no longer necessarily reflected in what their parties have to offer — Arizonans, often moderate Democrats and Republicans, have been left up for grabs in the middle while major-party candidates have often moved to opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. And that is an overlooked but essential factor to explain our swinging state: The Arizona Democratic Party is more effectively targeting its messages to align with the moderate voters of the state."

Sally Nuamah | Public Perceptions of Black Women and Girls and its Punitive Consequences

October 6, 2020 – from Institute for Policy Research
The analysis reveals that Black girls are seen as older, more dangerous, and more knowledgeable about sex. Further, they are viewed as deserving of harsher punishments, in this case, suspension, more than any other student. These findings have serious implications for the study of race, gender, criminal justice, and public opinion in American politics.

Alvin Tillery | Webinar Recap: How to Lead on Racial Equity

October 6, 2020 – from 2U
GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand, hosted a LinkedIn live event titled “How to Lead on Racial Equity: Turn dialogue into action.” Ellen McGirt, senior editor at Fortune Magazine and the brilliant mind behind Fortune’s RaceAhead newsletter, was joined by Dr. Alvin Tillery, founding director of Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy and associate professor of political science, to discuss what it means to promote racial equity and achieve statistical parity in organizations. “Racial equity is an ideology that affirms that all people, regardless of their racial-ethnic group identifications, skin color, or physical traits, deserve an equal opportunity to experience wellbeing in a just society...Racial equity requires both a transformation of systems and racial healing," Professor Alvin Tillery said.


Alvin Tillery | Academic Panel on Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Verdict

September 29, 2020 – from Northwestern Now
A panel of experts from Northwestern discussed the ramifications of the grand jury decision on Breonna Taylor. The panel, moderated by TiShaunda McPherson, associate vice president for equity and a former civil rights attorney, covered the themes of gender, race, law, political movements and policing. We followed up with three of the panelists — Professors Sheila Bedi, Sekile Nzinga and Alvin Tillery, Jr — to hear more about the topics that were raised during the discussion “Where Do We Go From Here After the Breonna Taylor Verdict: Gender, Race, and the Future of Social Movements.”

Alvin Tillery | The Spin: Preview of Biden, Trump’s First Debate

September 28, 2020 – from The Chicago Tribune
"We’re little more than 24 hours before Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden square off in the first debate of the 2020 general election season, and political junkies are waiting to see the display. Trump should expect tax questions, as Lightfoot eases COVID-19 restrictions on bars, salons starting Thursday."

Alvin Tillery | “A Badly Broken System”: Northwestern Professors Respond to Breonna Taylor Ruling

September 24, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
Protesters held signs saying “Justice for Breonna Taylor” and petitions to “arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor” circulated online, garnering millions of signatures. Yet the grand jury ruled no indictments directly related to her death against the officers who shot her. In the news release, Tillery reflected on this decision, calling it a “watershed moment for the Black Lives Matter movement.” “For more than three months we have seen activists organizing mostly peaceful, disciplined protests demanding charges against the officers in the case,” he said. “What today showed is that protests are not going to be enough to generate accountability in such a badly broken system.”

Alvin Tillery | Northwestern Professors Remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 23, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
As the second female Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg was famous for both her decisions and dissents which notoriously defended gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights, including voting in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015. In a news release, political science Prof. Alvin Tillery reflected on her legacy. “Justice RBG was an American icon,” Tillery said. “As a young lawyer, she did more than perhaps any other figure to advance women’s equality through her landmark victories as a member of the Supreme Court Bar. She continued to be a champion for gender and racial equality during her tenure on the nation’s highest court.”

Mara Suttmann-Lea | Voter Education in the Digital Age: State and Local Election Official Use of Social Media

September 16, 2020 – from The Social Science Research Council
"I expect that larger, better resourced, socioeconomically advantaged jurisdictions, and jurisdictions where the majority of the voter population is white, are more likely to have election officials consistently using social media for voter education. Tangible products of this research will be a novel dataset of state and local election official social media usage during the 2020 general election cycle, scholarly publications, and a foundation for over-time data collection during future elections. With the ability to quickly convey information on platforms that are widely available and consistent in form from user to user, social media accounts of state and local election officials stand to be a potentially vital place for the public to seek accurate information about how to properly vote, especially during an election cycle disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic."

Daniel Krcmaric | The Justice Dilemma: Leaders and Exile in an Era of Accountability

September 15, 2020 – from Cornell University Press
Daniel Krcmaric, faculty affiliate at the CSDD, published a new book covering the new era of political accountability. What are the consequences of this recent push for international justice? In The Justice Dilemma, Krcmaric explains why the “golden parachute” of exile is no longer an attractive retirement option for oppressive rulers. The book also sheds light on several important questions. Why do some rulers choose to fight until they are killed or captured? Why do some civil conflicts last so much longer than others? Why has state-sponsored violence against civilians fallen in recent years? While exploring these questions, Krcmaric marshals statistical evidence and reconstructs the decision-making processes of notable leaders to show how contemporary international justice both deters atrocities and prolongs conflicts.

Traci Burch | Online Originals: N.C. court finds felon disenfranchisement rule “unconstitutional”

September 10, 2020 – from WNCT9
"In an expert report written by Dr. Traci Burch for the case states that “many of the people currently under supervision for felony convictions in the community in North Carolina would register and vote if they were not currently disenfranchised”. The report also states that North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law prevents a significant number of people who had voted in the past (before their felony convictions) from participating in elections."

Karen Alter | Conceptualising backlash politics: Introduction to a special issue on backlash politics in comparison

September 9, 2020 – from British Journal of Politics and International Relations
Despite the widespread sense that backlash is an important feature of contemporary national and world politics, there is remarkably little scholarly work on the politics of backlash. This special issue conceptualises backlash politics as a distinct form of contentious politics. Backlash politics includes the following three necessary elements: (1) a retrograde objective of returning to a prior social condition, (2) extraordinary goals and tactics that challenge dominant scripts, and (3) a threshold condition of entering mainstream public discourse.


Alvin Tillery | The Flight 93 Convention

August 27, 2020 – from The Atlantic
Alvin Tillery Jr., the director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, says such anxieties are likely to only intensify through the 2020s as white Americans continue to decline as a share of the overall population. “They are a minority party whose base is shrinking considerably when you project forward in the generations,” he told me. “If you dig deeper and look at the political psychology of their base, it’s driven to a large extent by this narrative of loss. It means that they are going to have a playbook that is cast narrower and narrower toward that white male base.”

Alvin Tillery | Black Female Leaders In Illinois Celebrate The Historic Choice Of Kamala Harris

August 14, 2020 – from Illinois Newsroom
Alvin Tillery, director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, believes this historic choice could mean more enthusiasm among Black women, and that could translate to higher voter turnout in Black communities. “Black women are the ones organizing the sort of ‘souls to the polls’ and other [get out the vote] efforts in the Black community,” he said. “And so boosting their enthusiasm will likely boost the overall enthusiasm of the community and boost turnout.”

Jaime Dominguez | Biden Selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as Running Mate

August 11, 2020 – from WTTW Chicago
“Chicago Tonight” analyzes Joe Biden’s choice with Felicia Davis, president and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women; Delmarie Cobb, political consultant and founder of Ida's Legacy; and Jaime Dominguez, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University.

James Druckman | The Role of Race, Religion, and Partisanship in Misinformation About COVID-19

August 10, 2020 – from Northwestern Institute for Policy Research
Concerns about misinformation among the public abound. While this is not new, the rise of social media has stimulated scholars, across the social sciences, to explore the spread of misinformation and tactics for correcting misperceptions. Surprisingly, little work explores the correlates of misinformation in varying contexts – that is, how do factors such as group affiliations, media exposure, and lived experiences influence levels of misinformation?

Alvin Tillery | The hashtag, the movement and the groups: Understanding Black Lives Matter

August 1, 2020 – from Deseret News
According to Alvin Tillery, professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, none of these ideas are foundational to the movement as a whole. With hundreds of locally organized groups, the movement does not have a singular identity, and there are no solutions to discrimination and policing that everyone agrees on, he said.


Traci Burch | Police Reform and Systemic Racism

July 31, 2020 – from CSPAN
"I do have hope…there are lots of people who are working on these problems. The political will needs to be there. But most importantly, we’re starting to think about and harmonize across the country what it is we want and expect from our police and how we want police to treat others. Part of that is to think about what kind of policing we all want. When we call the police for help, what is it we expect from that? If we go to a community policing meeting…how do we want the police to treat our neighbors? How do we want the police to treat our neighbor’s kids? I think that the fact that we all are starting to consider (that) now, even if we are not the people most likely to have a bad outcome from police contact, that we now care about and are interested in what happens to other people. That’s probably one of the biggest changes going forward.”

Tabitha Bonilla & Alvin Tillery | Which Identity Frames Boost Support for and Mobilization in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement? An Experimental Test

July 30, 2020 – from American Political Science Review
"The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has organized hundreds of disruptive protests in American cities since 2013 (Garza 2014; Harris 2015; Taylor 2016). The movement has garnered considerable attention from the U.S. media and is well recognized by the U.S. public (Horowitz and Livingston 2016; Neal 2017). Social movement scholars suggest that such robust mobilizations are typically predicated on clear social movement frames (Benford and Snow 2000; Snow et al. 1986). Tillery (2019b) has identified several distinct message frames within the social media communications of BLM activists. In this paper, we use a survey experiment to test the effect of three of these frames—Black Nationalist, Feminist, and LGBTQ+ Rights—on the mobilization of African Americans."

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd | Defund the Border Police: Racial Justice and the American Border

July 13, 2020 – from Canopy Forum
"Americans looking for a way forward in this national crisis are calling for prioritizing anti-racism, demilitarizing American society, and democratizing the political and legal system. To do so will require understanding which institutions are most in need of reform. My research on the American border suggests that border policy should be at the top of the list. As protestors challenge long-standing racialized and militarized institutions of American governance, they would do well to learn from and collaborate with border scholars and activists who have spent decades documenting and challenging these practices."

Alvin Tillery | Who voters want to be Joe Biden’s vice president, according to the polls

July 2, 2020 – from Vox
"Across key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, turnout rates dipped among Black voters between 2012 and 2016. Former President Barack Obama’s groundbreaking candidacies in 2008 and 2012 were viewed as a significant reason for higher turnout from Black voters in both elections, and the historic choice of a Black woman as vice president could possibly lead to a similar uptick. A Northwestern University survey conducted in late May indicated as much: 57 percent of African American voters polled said they’d be more excited about voting for Biden if he selected a Black woman for his running mate."


Alvin Tillery | Activists Call for Woodrow Wilson's Name to be Removed from NJ Elementary School

June 24, 2020 – from NBC New York
Fellow academic Alvin Tillery Jr., of Northwestern University, researched how conventional surveys of presidential greatness have ranked Wilson among the best presidents – while editors of Black-owned newspapers have given him low marks. “He was a good president in some ways, in general terms. But he was also vehemently racist and he was terrible for race relations,” Tillery said.

Alvin Tillery | Bill of Rights: On civic action

June 23, 2020 – from Civics 1010 Podcast
"The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to our Constitution. In our episode about the Bill of Rights, the final seven minutes of the episode, featuring Alvin Tillery and Linda Monk, is about the actions it took to make these rights actually apply to our lives."

Matt Nelsen | America's Classroom Shuts Down This Spring

June 22, 2020 – from The Washington Post
"In March, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders called out young people for failing to vote on Super Tuesday. Social commentators are quick to note that less than half of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the 2016 presidential election. But young Americans, particularly young black Americans, are driving the recent wave of protests in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Educators have struggled to ensure access to high-quality civic learning opportunities across America — and the protests of May and June demonstrate that empowering civics lessons often take place outside the classroom."

Kumar Ramanathan, Matthew Nelsen, & Tom Ogorzalek | The Racial Divide in Chicagoland’s Experiences of Policing

June 22, 2020 – from Chicago Democracy
"As protests against racism and police brutality continue across the United States, issues of policing have come to dominate the local political agenda across the country, including in Chicago. Activists have proposed defunding the police, removing police officers from schools, civilian accountability of police, and numerous other policies. In light of ongoing public discussion on these proposals, this blog post shares findings from recent surveys that highlight stark differences in experiences and views of policing across racial groups in Chicagoland. Underscoring the voices of activists and protestors, we find that Black residents disproportionately experience negative encounters with police, sharply disapprove of their performance, and express more concern about crime."

Alvin Tillery | Civics 101 Podcast: Protest

June 11, 2020 – from Civics 101 Podcast
Both Alvin Tillery and Bakari Sellers, our guests for the show, pointed out that there is always resistance to protest, even when it is nonviolent. Today, we’ll look at the response to protest through the lens of letters to the editor, past and present.

Traci Burch | Toward Transformative Justice: A Community Roundtable on Race, Racism, and Policing

June 9, 2020 – from Northwestern Alumni Association
The Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) is committed to promoting conversation surrounding issues of race and police violence both within and beyond the classroom. These efforts are of even more importance given the historic and ongoing protests responding to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others. In light of these events, NPEP is announcing Toward Transformative Justice: A Community Roundtable Series on Race, Racism, and Policing that aims to open space for conversation on these topics.

Wesley Skogan | How cities can reimagine their police forces and still fight crime

June 9, 2020 – from Quartz
As a call to action, defund the police can have a variety of meanings.”Dismantle, disinvest, defund, redirect, abolish—there may be some subtle differences between these… [but] there are some themes underneath them,” says Wesley Skogan, professor emeritus of political science at Northwestern University. “You’d be hard pressed to find an abolitionist position,” Skogan says. (Camden, New Jersey is one of very few locales that has disbanded and restarted its police force from scratch.) “So it’s all really a question of the adjustments that need to be made.”

Sally A. Nuamah | How Closing Schools Impacts Democracy

June 4, 2020 – from Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy
Chicago closed a record-high 50 public schools in 2013. But more will likely be permanently shuttered in the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic-related budget crisis, Northwestern University political scientist Sally Nuamah predicted in an interview with Citylab. Additional school closures could cause “mobilization fatigue” for black and Latino families and ultimately influence the upcoming 2020 presidential election, says Nuamah, who explores these theories in her forthcoming book Closed for Democracy, which she recently completed.

Alvin Tillery | Perspective: The state of our country

June 3, 2020 – from Northwestern Now
“As a scholar of protests, I would also like to highlight that we are in a very interesting phase in the life cycle of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The hyper-democratic, decentralized nature of the movement has worked brilliantly in generating protest activities on the ground and giving Americans a vocabulary for articulating their emotions about the anti-racist struggle in America."

Alvin Tillery | America Has A History Of Inequality When It Comes To Protests

June 2, 2020 – from The 21st Show
"Sunshine Clemons, president of the Springfield chapter of Black Lives Matter, discusses the weekend's solidarity procession in honor of George Floyd and against police violence. And Northwestern University professor Alvin Tillery talks about how protests dismantling power structures, how political leaders are framing the protests this week, and how he has been handling his emotions regarding another police murder of a black man."


Alvin Tillery | Trump Gambles on Splitting Biden's Base With Riot Rhetoric

May 29, 2020 – from NBC News
While Trump's campaign strategy includes limiting enthusiasm for Biden among black voters, his remarks on the Minneapolis situation mostly reflect a need to persuade swing-voting whites. "Trump won by flipping suburban white voters in 200 counties that Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012," said Alvin Tillery, director of Northwestern University's Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. "Although these voters display less racial resentment that Trump’s hardcore Southern base, it is still a part of their ideological makeup. It is also true that these voters are less likely to see the police as being at fault in cases of brutality."

Alvin Tillery | National protests over George Floyd's death was 'conflagration waiting to happen'

May 29, 2020 – from NBC News
"Big cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and Newark, New Jersey, were once convulsed by rioting, or as Tillery prefers to call them, "uprisings," that left black and brown communities disadvantaged socially and economically to this day. The millennials and Gen Z who are protesting now are "much less willing to take the law and order obfuscations that come from the white power structure," Tillery said.

Jennifer Forestal | Beyond Gatekeeping: Propaganda, Democracy, and the Organization of Digital Publics

May 28, 2020 – from The Journal of Politics
"While there is disagreement as to the severity of the digital disinformation problem, scholars and practitioners have largely coalesced around the idea that ‘a new system of safeguards is needed’ to prevent its spread. By minimizing the role of citizens in managing their own communities, however, I argue these gatekeeping approaches are undemocratic. To develop a more democratic alternative, I draw from the work of Harold D. Lasswell and John Dewey to argue that we should study the organization of digital publics. For citizens to engage in democratic inquiry, publics must be organized so that they can 1) easily identify their common interests and 2) regularly encounter variety. I then analyze Facebook, showing how the News Feed and Facebook Groups together create a platform on which propagandists can effectively target and manipulate specific publics."

Sally Nuamah | What Happens to Democracy When Schools Close

May 1, 2020 – from Bloomberg CityLab
What happens to families in the aftermath of these closings? For her forthcoming book, “Closed for Democracy,” Northwestern University urban politics professor Sally Afia Nuamah found that school closures tend to imbibe mostly black and Latino families with a sense of “mobilization fatigue”: They expend considerable political energy fighting to keep their schools open only to watch their elected officials cater to families who actually support closing schools.


Alex Hertel-Fernandez | American Workers' Experiences with Power, Information, and Rights on the Job

April 30, 2020 – from The Roosevelt Institute
"The COVID-19 pandemic has cast these failings in sharp relief: the lack of paid sick leave, inadequate wages, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, and the inability to speak up at work without facing discipline or dismissal. But even before the coronavirus crisis, a growing number of labor activists, policymakers, and academics have been calling for a fundamental overhaul of workplace law."

Wesley Skogan | Beck Reflects on His Time in Chicago Battling COVID-19 and the City’s Stubborn Violence Problem

April 9, 2020 – from The Chicago Tribune
Wesley Skogan, a Northwestern University emeritus professor of political science who has studied policing in Chicago, said the reorganization going forward should be crucial for top brass who need more cops at the drop of a hat when crime flares up. “Every superintendent I’ve known has wanted to put resources in the hands of the area deputies so that they can move them around from district to district within their jurisdiction, and so they can respond quickly,” said Skogan.“ Here, (Beck) was pursuing a dream that several superintendents have dreamed, which was to try to decentralize this quickly responsive resource reallocation and push it down to the area level.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd | Theologies of American Exceptionalism

April 6, 2020 – from Indiana University Press
"Theologies of American Exceptionalism is a collection of fifteen interlocking essays reflecting on the vagaries of exceptionalist claims in and about the United States. Loosely and generatively curious, these essays bring together a range of historical and contemporary voices, some familiar and some less so, to stimulate new thought about America. A print version of this volume will be available in summer 2020. This volume is the first in a book series “Religion and the Human” hosted by the IU Center for Religion and the Human."


Brian Harrison | How to be an Ally for Transgender Rights

March 31, 2020 – from Oxford University Press's Blog
"How do we push back against this fear and help others treat transgender people with equality and respect? Remind us all that we have a superpower. When we speak up, we can change people’s perspectives, change public opinion, and change public policy. Every one of us can play a part in improving the lives and treatment of transgender people. The key is to appeal to people’s existing values and feelings, boosting their existing identities and reassuring folks who feel uncomfortable that they are good people. Here is our actionable, evidence-based advice—grounded in empirical data—on how to help folks be more comfortable with transgender people and more supportive of their rights."

Mary McGrath | Female Politicians are Struggling, but Could Succeed with More Faith from Voters

March 22, 2020 – from Medill Reports
McGrath’s experiments revealed a distinct, self-fulling prophecy among voters, fueled in part by the hesitation around voting for something they’ve never seen before, in this case a female holding executive office. “We don’t see women in office and then voters may take that as a sign that other voters aren’t willing to put women in office. So, it’s the same sort of unfortunate feedback loop,” McGrath said.

Samara Klar | Civics 101: A Podcast — Independents

March 11, 2020 – from Civics 101 Podcast
What prevents someone from affiliating with a political party? What is the ideology of an independent? And how can these voters exist in a two party system? Walking us through the world of the party outsiders is political scientist Samara Klar, head of, Jacqueline Salit and president of New Hampshire Independent Voters, Tiani Coleman.

Alvin Tillery | Illinois Democratic Presidential Primary Will Be Critical As Biden, Sanders Run Neck-And-Neck

March 4, 2020 – from CBS Chicago
The primary is on March 17, and Northwestern University political scientist Alvin Tillery Jr. said Illinois voters’ ballots will matter. “Absolutely – this is going to be a very critical stretch – the rest of the month’s primaries – because you do have the ability to decide it for Joe Biden, or keep Bernie Sanders in it,” Tillery said. Tillery said the 10 upcoming primaries and caucuses prior to Illinois’ March 17 primary day will further clarify a frontrunner. After Super Tuesday, that is not always the case.


Kumar Ramanathan et al. | Immigrants Are Far More Engaged In Politics than What You May Expect

February 21, 2020 – from United States Politics and Policy
In new research, Natalie Masuoka, Kumar Ramanathan, and Jane Junn cast doubt on notion that immigrants are less engaged with politics than native born Americans. Analyzing nation-wide survey data, they find that those immigrants who do have citizenship are just as likely and potentially more likely to vote than those born in the US. In addition, looking at political activities that do not require citizenship, they also determine that non-citizens participate at a similar rate to citizens.

James Druckman et al. | Electoral Consequences of Court Expansion Advocacy

February 18, 2020 – from Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research
"Our results indicate that Republican and Independent voters are no more likely to vote, or to vote for a Republican candidate, if a Democratic candidate endorses court expansion. Thus, a Democratic candidate’s endorsement of court expansion will not produce an electoral backlash. On the other hand, our results indicate that candidate endorsement of court expansion does not prompt Democrats to vote at higher rates, or to become more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Thus, based on our experimental results, candidate endorsement of court expansion is not expected to produce an electoral disadvantage or benefit in 2020."


Matt Lacombe | Firepower: How the NRA Turned Gun Owners into a Political Force

January 30, 2021 – from Princeton University Press
Taking readers from the 1930s to the age of Donald Trump, Matthew Lacombe traces how the NRA’s immense influence on national politics arises from its ability to shape the political outlooks and actions of its supporters. He draws on nearly a century of archival records and surveys to show how the organization has fashioned a distinct worldview around gun ownership and used it to mobilize its supporters. Lacombe reveals how the NRA’s cultivation of a large, unified, and active base has enabled it to build a resilient alliance with the Republican Party, and examines why the NRA and its members formed an important base that helped fuel the unlikely political rise of Donald Trump.

Mauro Gilli | A Mercenary Army of the Poor? Technological Change and the Demographic Composition of the Post-9/11 U.S. Military

January 30, 2020 – from Journal of Strategic Studies
"Is the American military a mercenary army of the poor, as some critics of U.S. foreign policy suggest? In this article, we analyse individual-level data of two national representative samples covering the period 1979–2008. We find that, in contrast to the accepted wisdom, the U.S. military no longer primarily recruits individuals from the most disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Technological, tactical, operational and doctrinal changes have led to a change in the demand for personnel. As a result, on different metrics such as family income and family wealth as well as cognitive abilities, military personnel performs, on average, like or slightly better than the civilian population."

Laurel Harbridge-Yong et al. | Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters

January 28, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
Legislative solutions to pressing problems like balancing the budget, climate change, and poverty usually require compromise. Yet national, state, and local legislators often reject compromise proposals that would move policy in their preferred direction. Why do legislators reject such agreements? This engaging and relevant investigation into how politicians think reveals that legislators refuse compromise - and exacerbate gridlock - because they fear punishment from voters in primary elections. Prioritizing these electoral interests can lead lawmakers to act in ways that hurt their policy interests and also overlook the broader electorate's preferences by representing only a subset of voters with rigid positions.

James Druckman, John Bullock, et al. | College sports show interactions with people from other backgrounds affects policy attitudes, professor suggests

January 6, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
The study — which collected about 32,000 email contacts — surveyed NCAA athletes, coaches and school administrators. Respondents’ own identities and level of interaction with black and female athletes were compared with their approval of policies supporting those two groups. “The idea here is that the more somebody who’s not a member of that group interacts with members of that group, the more they’re going to learn their perspective and possibly come to support those policies views,” Druckman said.