Nebraska experts available to comment on 2016 election

Nebraska experts available to comment on 2016 election

Woman holding an American flag during a 2016 presidential election rally
Joseph Sohm | Shutterstock

Once the votes are tallied in the 2016 election, where does America go next? University of Nebraska-Lincoln experts are available to help journalists interpret the results and predict what the voters’ decisions mean for the future.

Stressed-out voters

Political scientist Kevin Smith, who studies politics and biology, recently assisted reporters for WNYC radio, a New York City public radio station, in an experiment measuring stress hormone levels among debate watchers as well as a Texas couple who had to stop talking about the presidential race because their fights became too heated. The story appeared on WNYC’s “Only Human” program, as well as on the United States of Anxiety podcast, and was discussed on The Takeaway, NPR’s nationally distributed talk shows. Smith will be available on a limited basis Nov. 9 via email at ksmith1@unl.edu.

Trump’s appeal

Political scientist John Hibbing has studied what he calls “stealth democracy” – voters who dislike the compromise inherent in politics and prefer decisiveness of un-elected experts and businesspeople. That seems to describe many Trump supporters, Hibbing has observed. Hibbing, who studies politics and biology, also can talk about voters and anxiety. Hibbing can be reached via email Nov. 9 at jhibbing1@unl.edu.

If America elects its first female president (or not)

Sociologist Julia McQuillan has studied how to develop more women leaders in higher education. If Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected, she is prepared to discuss how it could change the implicit assumption that the top leader of the U.S. must be male. Former president Bill Clinton’s new role as first husband also could change perceptions about men’s roles at work and at home, with both genders being seen as more complete persons with both job and family responsibilities. If Trump wins, she adds, she hopes it will energize the feminist movement. McQuillan is in Florida to watch the election with her mother, but can be reached via email jmcquillan2@unl.edu.

Law professor Anna Shavers also is available to discuss how the presidential election could affect women. If Clinton wins, it will be “the confirmation that a woman can serve as the leader of the free world,” she says. Though Clinton may not necessarily advance policies focused on women, her election would bring a new perspective to the White House and it sends a message to politically ambitious women and girls by showing them the presidency is a realistic possibility. “A Trump victory will simply mean that none of the things I mentioned will happen,” she added. Shavers will be at her office phone, 402-472-2194, on Nov. 9. Her email address is ashavers@unl.edu.

Economist Ann Mari May is an expert on the history of women and work who serves as executive vice president and treasurer of the International Association for Feminist Economists. She can speak on the historic importance of Clinton's candidacy. She is available from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9. Her email address is amay1@unl.edu.

The candidates’ messages

Nebraska debate coach Aaron Duncan, an assistant professor of practice in communication studies, can analyze the presidential candidates’ speeches as well as the media’s presentation of the election results and the campaigns. He notes GOP candidate Donald Trump relied on a fearful and aggressive form of emotional rhetoric, while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton reinforced the power of establishment advantages for coordination and fund raising. Duncan is available until 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. He can be reached via email at aduncan3@unl.edu.

If it’s too close to call

Law professor Eric Berger is a constitutional scholar who can discuss whether the election results can be challenged. He can be reached via email, eric.berger@unl.edu, the evening of Nov. 8 or Nov. 9, or at his office phone, 402-472-1251, the morning of Nov. 9.

The fate of Nebraska’s death penalty

Berger (see above) also is a national expert on the constitutional questions about the death penalty and the lethal injection method.

Nebraska’s surprisingly divided attitude about capital punishment

Sociologist Lisa Kort-Butler has studied Nebraskans' shifting attitudes toward the death penalty dating back to the 1980s. She has gathered preliminary data from the Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey that showed Nebraskans in 2016 were nearly equally divided between support and opposition to capital punishment – with 46 percent saying they preferred an alternative punishment of life in prison and 45 percent saying they favored the death penalty. Kort-Butler also has observed that a growing number of Nebraskans think capital punishment is not fair. Kort-Butler is available at 402-472-6005 after 3:30 p.m. Nov. 8 and after 9 a.m. on Nov. 9.

Additional experts on election topics may be available on request on Nov. 8. Contact Leslie Reed, national news editor, at lreed5@unl.edu or 402-677-0853 (cell) or 402-472-2059, Deann Gayman, social sciences writer/editor, at 402-472-8320 or deann.gayman@unl.edu.