SearchDirectoriesHelpSite MapHome
Wake Forest University

News Releases

Presidential election 2008: Wake Forest University experts

January 31, 2008


Katy Harriger

Professor of Political Science

During the course of research for their book, “Speaking of Politics,” Wake Forest professor of political science, Katy Harriger, and professor emerita of communication, Jill McMillan, found that having a chance to talk in depth about issues empowers young people to become active in the political process.  “Speaking of Politics” was a four-year study on the role deliberative dialogue has on preparing college students for democratic citizenship.  At the beginning of the study, Harriger and McMillan found that freshmen felt more attuned to community service rather than political activism.  As Harriger stated, “they feel they can't change federal policy to help end world hunger, but they can help feed the family down the street.”  Harriger and McMillan found that participation in the study helped students realize their own power to influence issues and the democratic process.  After four years, students involved in the study were more involved in traditional political venues, more attuned to the responsibilities of citizenship, more analytical and critical of political processes, more confident in their ability to make a difference, more inclined to speak and think communally, and more imaginative in recognizing possibilities for deliberation and its broader applications.


Jack Fleer

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

The 2008 presidential campaign began with seven sitting or former governors vying for the presidency. Of those, two remain in the running: Republican former governors Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.).  Jack Fleer, professor emeritus of political science at Wake Forest University, says that overall, governors rate fairly well when they win the presidency. In historical rankings of presidential performance, four of the ‘consensus’ top 10 presidents include four former governors:  Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Since 1789, governors have held the presidency nearly half the time; governors have won seven of the last eight presidential elections. Fleer says governors have some key advantages in presidential campaigns. “They have executive experience in large administrative bureaucracies, as well as experience as political party and public leaders. They have participated in major public policy debates. They may be seen as Washington ‘outsiders’ – which can be perceived as both an asset and a liability – and, unlike U.S. senators seeking the presidency, do not have the voting records on public issues that can be scrutinized for land mines.”  Fleer is watching the 2008 elections closely to see how Romney and Huckabee fare in their race for the White House. His new book, “Governors Speak,” takes a close look at the evolving role of governor and the people who excel in this role and beyond.


David Coates

Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies

David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University, says he wrote his latest book in response to the lack of good liberal responses to the conservative arguments of commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Anne Coulter.  In “A Liberal Tool Kit: Progressive Responses to Conservative Arguments,” Coates presents the complexities of the conservative arguments, while at the same time clarifying liberal positions in straight-forward, everyday language.  Syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. calls this a “fighter’s manual for a revived Liberalism.  Conservatives need to worry about this book because Coates takes them seriously.” The book outlines a series of hot political issues, and how progressives can respond to conservative arguments on each issue. Each chapter tackles a specific issue, beginning with well-researched background about the topic, the conservative stance and samples of conservative arguments either in support or opposition to that topic. The second part of each chapter outlines progressive counter-arguments, supported by facts and tactics to keep the discussion on-topic. “If we are to answer back effectively against conservative orthodoxies that are as strongly held and widely disseminated as those we now face,” says Coates, “our liberal rebuttal will have to be powerful in both what it says and how it is delivered.”  A blog ( is published in connection with the book containing updates on issues so readers can stay current with the changing political landscape.


Melissa Rogers

Visiting Professor of Religion and Public Policy

Rogers can comment on the role of religion in the presidential race and its likely impact on the outcome of the election. She is also an attorney and can comment on the legal restrictions on churches’  partisan political activity.  She has testified before the Judiciary Committee to the U.S. Senate on religion’s role in the public square.   Rogers previously served as the founding executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C., and was recently named co-chair of the Religion Clauses issue group of the American Constitution Society. She is the founder and director of Wake Forest’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs.


Allan Louden

Associate Professor of Communication

Allan Louden is an expert on political debates, political campaigns and political advertising.  He has provided expert commentary and debate analysis for USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Newsweek and a wide range of other national media outlets.  He has published papers on such topics as “Audience Recall of Issues and Image in Political Debates.”  Under Louden’s leadership as debate coach, Wake Forest won a national debate championship.  He also served as Elizabeth Dole’s debate coach during the 2002 U.S. Senate race.   Wake Forest hosted presidential debates in 1988 and 2000.  During the 2000 debate, Louden led the focus-group project DebateWatch, and taught the course “Great Teachers: Presidential Debates.”  Louden also teaches a class on negative political campaigns and suggests negative campaigning helps voters better understand the issues.  He provides debate analysis for, a Web site devoted to encouraging lively analysis of political debates.  The site was created by Wake Forest Director of Debate Ross Smith. 


Robert M. Whaples

Professor of Economics

Robert M. Whaples, professor of economics and chair of the economics department at Wake Forest, is an expert on the economic history of the United States and on consensus among economists on current policy issues.  Whaples is also the director of EH.Net, the Web site of the Economic History Service that provides electronic services to economic historians.  He is the co-editor of the book “Historical Perspectives on the American Economy” and editor of “The Encyclopedia of Economic and Business History.”  His Modern Economic Issues course, a series of 36 half-hour lectures on economic issues ranging from global warming and Social Security to Wal-Mart and obesity, is available on CD and DVD from The Teaching Company.  His article, “Do Economists Agree on Anything?” (2006) is the most frequently downloaded article published in the journal “The Economists’ Voice.”



Jac Heckelman

Professor of Economics

Jac C. Heckelman, professor of economics and Reinsch/Pierce Faculty Fellow at Wake Forest, has authored or co-authored numerous papers on economic freedom, public choice, interest group formation and voting systems.  Heckelman coordinated a presidential session on the economic history of the South at the Southern Economics Association conference in November 2007.  He is available to discuss current campaign issues related to income tax, immigration or how economic conditions relate to voting behavior.  A complete vita may be found at:

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

Search News Archive

Wake Forest University • Winston-Salem, North Carolina • Information: 336.758.5000 | Feedback