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Wake Forest University sources: N.C. primaries

April 30, 2008


John Dinan, associate professor of political science

“2008 marks the first time that North Carolina voters will cast a meaningful vote in a May presidential primary,” says Dinan.  “On two occasions, in 1976 and 1988, North Carolina moved its presidential primary up to March, and both times voters cast meaningful votes.”  Dinan says North Carolina voters kept alive Ronald Reagan's challenge to Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976.  He says in past elections, when the North Carolina primary has been held at its usual time in May, the nominations have been effectively over.  Dinan is interested in state politics and the role state governments play in the U.S. federal system.  He teaches courses on state and national elections and offers a seminar every four years on the presidential election.

Direct Contact:   (336) 758-3495 or

News Service Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


Katy Harriger, professor and chair of political science

Harriger is an expert on political participation and voting among college-age people.  She conducted a multi-year project, Democracy Fellows, which found that college students who participate in public deliberation feel more empowered to become active citizens.  The results were published recently in “Speaking of Politics:  Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue.”  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 and more inclined to talk about the greater good rather than the personal benefit of political involvement.

Direct Contact:  (336)-758-5450 or

News Service Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.

Allan Louden,
associate professor of communication

Louden is an expert on political campaigns, political advertising and presidential debates. He posts debate analysis on, a Web site devoted to encouraging lively analysis of political debates. Louden has provided expert commentary on political campaigns and political debates for USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Newsweek and a wide range of other national print and broadcast outlets. He has published papers on such topics as “Audience Recall of Issues and Image in Political Debates.” Louden is tracking campaign ads and messages for the presidential race and the N.C. Governor’s race and can provide expert commentary on the effectiveness of negative ads in these contests.  He was quoted in USA Today about the presidential candidate debate in Pennsylvania. “I don’t think an Obama could have happened … absent the Internet and absent this kind of exposure in debates,” he said. 

Direct Contaact:  (336) 758-5408 or

News Service Contact:  Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-5237.


Jack Fleer, professor emeritus of political science

Fleer is an expert on the role of governor, especially in North Carolina.  He is also an insightful analyst on political campaigns.  Fleer says the competition for both parties’ nominations for governor is heated, but especially so among the Democratic candidates.  “The Democratic Party has had bad experiences with divisive primaries in the past,” says Fleer.  “In 1972 and 1984 when the Democrats were split after their primary battles, the Republican nominee was able to take advantage of those fissures, along with a strong national presidential campaign, to claim victory in the fall gubernatorial election.  Those were the only times in the 20th century when Republican governors were elected in North Carolina other than the reelection of incumbent Republican Governor Martin in 1988.”  Fleer says that much will depend upon how well the Democrats and Republicans overcome their “family fights” from the primaries to unify in their battles against the opposing party in the fall.

Direct Contact:  (336) 758-5865 or

News Service Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


Melissa Rogers, visiting professor religion and public policy, Wake Forest University Divinity School

Rogers is recognized as one of the church-state experts “politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue.”  She previously served as the founding executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C.  The forum, a project supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, serves as a clearinghouse and a town hall for the discussion of the ways in which religion shapes ideas and institutions.  Prior to her leadership at the Pew Forum, Rogers served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs based in Washington, D.C.  She is the founder and director of Wake Forest’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, and serves as co-chair of the Religion Clauses issue group of the American Constitution Society on Law and Public Policy.  Rogers has written widely about the relationship between religion and government.  She has spoken with ministers at national conferences about how to be political without being partisan, and frequently appears on national news programs to address the role of religion in political campaigns.

Direct Contact:

News Service Contact:  Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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