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Wake Forest University election 2008 sources

Wake Forest University faculty members are available to comment on the 2008 candidates, issues and campaign strategies. Experts are available from a wide range of areas, including political science, debate, religion, law and business, covering topics such as campaign ads, presidential debates, health care, banking, political scandal and young voters.

Areas of Interest:


Allan Louden, associate professor of communication

Louden has provided expert commentary on political campaigns and advertising for a wide range of national and regional media outlets. Obama and McCain ads are increasingly negative, Louden says. Especially those in local markets paid for by independent groups rather than the campaigns. He tracks political ads for the presidential race, the Dole/Hagan senate race and other political races across the country. Louden directed Wake Forest's nationally-ranked debate program for 30 years, and under his leadership, Wake Forest won a national debate championship. This fall, he is teaching courses on political communication and digital politics. Louden studies negativity in campaigns and recently taught a course on that topic. He posts commentary on and regularly analyzes poltical speeches, advertising and debates for the Charlotte Observer blog, "The Ballot."

News Service Contact: Cheryl Walker, or 336-758-6073



Melissa Rogers, visiting professor of religion and public policy, School of Divinity

Rogers follows the increasingly prominent issue of religion in political campaigns. "The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running-mate has energized the traditional religious base of the Republican Party," she says, "but the Democrats continue to gain ground among white evangelicals and Catholics." Rogers finds it troubling that there is little consistency in how the media is handling the candidates' religion. For example, she says, "Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was treated as an unofficial spokesman for Obama, while Sarah Palin's pastor, Ed Kalnins, is somehow off-limits." Rogers previously served as the founding executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C. Rogers has also 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 is co-authoring a book on religion and law for Baylor University Press. She maintains a blog on religion's intersection with public life at

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Bill Leonard, dean of the School of Divinity and professor of church history

Leonard follows religion in the public sphere, and is closely watching religious issues in the campaigns. "The church affiliations of the candidates, particularly Obama and Palin, are fascinating illustrations of the impact of both the African American and the Evangelical church in America," says Leonard. "The diversity of views on what religion might mean in the lives of individual candidates is especially informative as to the way religious groups line up on moral/political issues." A renowned Baptist historian, Leonard is available to provide background about the development of the Religious Right, and how evangelicals are active as a religious political group. "This election year illustrates the fact that we can no longer use the term 'evangelical' without acknowledging that it has become the Republican Party at prayer," Leonard says. "The word has become so politicized as to lose its theological and in some ways its historical meaning."

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Katy Harriger, professor and chair of the political science department

Harriger has a strong focus on political participation and voting among college-age people. She has been closely following the record turnout for young voters in the 2008 primaries and caucuses. "Overall, it more than doubled and in some states tripled past turnout numbers," she says. "We should expect that to continue in the general election and it should work to the advantage of Obama because voters in the 18-25 year age group are disproportionately Democratic identifiers." Harriger conducted a multi-year project, Democracy Fellows, which found that college students who participate in public deliberation feel more empowered to become active citizens.

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



John Dinan, associate professor of political science

After a period this summer when both presidential candidates tried to broaden the list of competitive states, the campaign is now at a point where the actual 10-12 battleground states are taking shape. Dinan says the map looks remarkably similar to the 2000 and 2004 electoral maps. "As in the past two elections, the candidates will compete heavily in Pennsylvania, in the Midwest in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and in the Southwest in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico." Dinan says New Hampshire and Florida are also once again competitive, while "Virginia is the one new battleground state where polls consistently demonstrate the possibility of a competitive race." Dinan is currently teaching a course on the 2008 elections and is available for comment on the Electoral College and the way it results in a narrowing of the electoral map to a limited number of battleground states.

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Robert (Bobby) Chesney, professor of law, School of Law

Bobby Chesney, a professor at the School of Law, is the former chair of the Section on National Security Law of the Association of American Law Schools, and an expert on legal issues associated with national security. He has written extensively about a range of issues relating to terrorism, including military detention at Guantanamo Bay, criminal prosecution of terrorists and civil litigation arising out of counterterrorism policies and actions. He is a member of the American Law Institute, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the owner and operator of both the National Security Advisors legal blog and the National Security Law Listserv. He is available to discuss current campaign issues relating to national security and the law, including legal policies relating to terrorism.

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Mark Hall, Fred D. and Elizabeth L. Turnage Professor of Law and Public Health,
School of Law and School of Medicine

Hall is one of the nation's leading scholars on health care law and policy and is the author of 14 books. He has studied the structure and functioning of private health insurance markets for nearly two decades, starting with a 1991 fellowship at the Health Insurance Association of America and continuing through 15 years of empirical studies with insurers, agents, employers and regulators. In recent testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Hall explained why large employer groups remain the best-functioning part of the market and why reform must focus on placing people into large groups, whose membership is not tied to health risk. "The high concentration of most medical costs in a relative few people is the single most important fact for understanding the private insurance market," Hall testified. "Risk selection practices flow directly from the very nature of how competitive markets should and must respond to highly concentrated health risks. Therefore, these effects will never be eliminated unless the market is fundamentally restructured."

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238



Robert Bliss, professor and F.M. Kirby Chair in Business Excellence,
Calloway School of Business and Accountancy

Bliss is an expert on banking, financial market regulation and insolvency resolution. He joined the Wake Forest faculty in 2004 after serving five years as senior financial economist and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and previous posts as a senior researcher at the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Bliss can explain why the federal government's takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make it an even more critical player than before in a housing market recovery and why the greater federal involvement promises to be long-lasting. "The government is in an awkward position," Bliss notes. "It needs Freddie and Fannie to 'prime the mortgage market pump' to pull the housing market out of its slump. That means allowing them to grow bigger and riskier, rather than shrink them. Meanwhile, both are losing money — now the taxpayer's money. It is going to be difficult to get outside equity investment to reduce their leverage. Liquidation (conversion to receivership) is unlikely, as that would involve further downward pressure on mortgage-backed security prices. For better or worse, the Treasury now 'owns' a long-term problem."

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238



Michelle Roehm, associate professor and Board of Visitors Fellow in Marketing,
Babcock Graduate School of Management

Roehm is an expert in brand management, consumer behavior and the dynamics of scandals, including how to recover from scandal and how to act when a competitor (or candidate) experiences scandal. "There's a natural inclination to think that a scandal for the competitor is good for your side," Roehm says. "However, my research shows that scandals can 'infect' close competitors and drag them down, too." For example, she says if the McCain campaign ran into controversy because it became known that the candidate was biased against left-handed people, people might wonder if deep down Obama also harbors resentment against left-handers. Thus, rather than helping Obama win votes, McCain's problem may actually de-value Obama's brand as well. In the case of scandal, Roehm recommends both candidates should take a proactive approach.

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238



David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies

Coates recently published "A Liberal Tool Kit," which describes how liberals can respond to conservative arguments. Coates says this year's general election looks set to be a watershed one. "At stake are conservative and liberal answers to the health care crisis, to the resolution of the Iraq war, to the reform of social security and to the appointment of Supreme Court justices," Coates says. "If the Democrats win the White House in November and strengthen their position in Congress, 2009 could see radicalism in public policy in the United States of the kind previously associated with the New Deal and the War on Poverty." Coates says a close look at the issues will show that a McCain/Palin administration would be a continuation of the Bush/Cheney administration's policies. Coates can also discuss health care reform, social security issues, the social agenda and U.S. foreign policy.

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Jason Parsley, assistant professor of mathematics

Jason Parsley's voting research studies the structure and geometry of weighted voting systems, where voters have different amounts of power (e.g., stockholders in a corporation). Parsley can explain the various voting systems in use, including plurality rule, instant runoff voting, approval voting, and the Electoral College. He says that mathematical theorems indicate that if three or more candidates are running, there is no 'fair' system for deciding a winner. He is available to talk about current topics such as electronic voting machines and felon disenfranchisement.

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



David Carroll, director of Wake Forest University's Center for Nanotechnology
and Molecular Materials and associate professor of physics

Carroll is an expert on using nanotechnology to address the energy crisis. His laboratory has discovered two cutting-edge technologies — a novel design for solar cells aimed at achieving record efficiency regardless of the sun's angle in the sky, and a revolutionary lighting source that is lightweight, ultra-thin and energy efficient because it uses nanotechnology to produce visible light directly rather than as a byproduct of heating a filament or gas. "It looks like a sheet of Plexiglas that lights up," Carroll explains. "Together with the new high-efficiency solar cells, we are addressing the energy crisis from both the supply and demand sides." Nanoholdings, a Connecticut-based company that specializes in developing early-stage nanotechnologies has licensed both technologies, and formed two start-up companies, FiberCell and PureLux. They are working with Carroll to advance both technologies to the commercialization stage.

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238



Scott Baker, associate professor of education

Baker is an expert on school desegregation, No Child Left Behind legislation, the racial achievement gap and high-stakes testing. Baker has commented for a variety of media outlets on these topics and is the author of "The Paradox of Desegregation." Since Congress has not reauthorized No Child Left Behind, Baker says it will be up to the new administration to set the direction for additional educational reform. "Threatening to fire teachers and close schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress has not been effective," Baker says. He suggests shifting the focus to rewards rather than punishments in any new K- 12 initiative. He also emphasizes the necessity for funding to match legal requirements. "If we think about the future of NCLB and we have thousands and thousands of schools failing and states don't have the capacity to help those schools improve, it undermines the credibility of the law."

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



Katy Harriger, professor and chair of political science

Harriger is an expert on the Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution. The next president will have the opportunity to make several appointments to the Supreme Court and the kinds of people likely to be appointed will differ significantly between the two candidates. "Supreme Court appointments are a very important power of the president and allow him to create a legacy well past his time in office," says Harriger. "Nonetheless, very few voters consider this as a significant factor in choosing a candidate. Those most motivated by it tend to be on the left and right of both parties and candidates are likely to try to figure out ways to reassure those voters without making a big deal out of it in the general election."

News Service Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393



Ana Wahl, associate professor of sociology

The impact of immigration on smaller towns has not been given adequate attention by the presidential candidates, says Wahl. She studies attitudes toward immigration and Latino newcomers in smaller towns. "Many smaller communities have witnessed a more significant increase in the size of the Latino population than traditional gateway cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and others," Wahl says. "In many smaller towns across North Carolina, for example, the Latino population has increased by more than 600 percent. For native-born residents of these communities, immigration will be a central issue in the way they vote in the presidential election."

News Service Contact: Cheryl Walker, or 336-758-6073



Frederick Harris, John B. McKinnon Professor of Managerial Economics and
Finance, Babcock Graduate School of Management

Harris' research focuses on the application of capacity-constrained pricing models to pricing tactics, security market design and financial market price discovery. His expertise is applicable to current issues involving the oil industry, airlines and monetary exchange rates. Harris is the co-author of "Managerial Economics: Applications, Strategy, and Tactics" (11th edition, 2008) published by Thomson/ SouthWestern.

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238


Michael Lord, associate professor of management, Sisel Fellow in Strategy and
director of the Flow Institute for International Studies,
Babcock Graduate School of Management

Lord's teaching, research and consulting work focus on innovation-driven ventures such as start-ups, high-tech mergers and acquisitions, spinouts, and international expansion, particularly into emerging markets such as China. He is also an expert on strategic management of public policy, public affairs and corporate political strategy. Lord is the lead co-author of "Innovation That Fits: Choosing the Right Innovation Strategy for Your Business," published by Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238


Alan Palmiter, professor of law, School of Law

Palmiter is an expert in business and comparative law (in Latin America) and can speak on the subjects of mutual fund reform, social security privatization and the Columbia free-trade agreement. His research interests lie in "corporate democracy," including investor participation in corporate voting, regulation of institutional investors (particularly mutual funds) and judicial protection of shareholder rights. He is the co-author of "Corporations Law & Policy: Materials and Problems" (6th edition, 2007) published by West Group.

News Service Contact: Eric Frazier, or 336-758-5238

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