Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Ryan Piurek
IU Media Relations

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2004

IU faculty available to discuss 2004 presidential primaries

EDITORS: The following is a list of Indiana University faculty in political science and journalism who can comment on the 2004 presidential primary season. Iowa and New Hampshire voters will go to the polls on Jan. 19 and Jan. 27, respectively, and seven states will vote on Feb. 3. Reporters may contact faculty members directly. For further assistance, contact Ryan Piurek at 812-855-5393 or For help reaching IUPUI faculty, contact a media relations coordinator at 317-274-7711.

The eventual Democratic nominee will need to reach out to swing voters, a group that has grown considerably in recent years, is very much "in play," and is ever-so-important in determining the outcome of the general election, according to Michael Wolf, assistant professor of political science at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. "These voters make up a considerable chunk of the electorate. They are politically savvy, independent-minded people who are engaged, interested in the issues and will certainly show up to vote. And they traditionally end up voting for the winner," Wolf said. "Swing voters typically make up their minds very late in the electoral process. They take in all the information they can get. This increases the importance of a response by Howard Dean to criticisms of being too much on the left, if he ends up being the nominee." Wolf added that, with a front-loaded primary season, we may know the Democratic nominee very early. If the race ends quickly, the nominee will have more time to make his or her case to crucial swing voters. Some previous Democratic presidential candidates have struggled to make the transition from targeting the traditional party base to appealing to a more general electorate. Wolf said it is probably too early to tell what will happen once the presidential campaign heats up. "It all depends on how the nominee responds," Wolf said. "Dean's support of civil unions and opposition to the war in Iraq have defined him as a leftist, but his past criticism of Social Security and record as Vermont governor show he's not afraid to govern in a different way. If he can pull out his record and brush it off, he may be successful. (Bill) Clinton effectively swatted away the liberal tag. (Michael) Dukakis ran from it and never responded, and it killed him. If Dean wins the nomination, he'll get labeled the same way, and it will depend on how effectively he responds," Wolf said. He can be reached at 260-481-6898 (office), 260-485-6347 (home), 260-433-1829 (cell) or

Candidates will reach out to Latino voters this year more than ever before, said Jorge Chapa, director of Latino Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. The number of Latinos grew by nearly 60 percent nationally during the 1990s and has grown by another 10 percent since 2000. "Personal appeal is an initial factor, and the candidate who supports the important Latino issues will get their votes," said Chapa, who taught at the University of Texas at Austin when George W. Bush was governor of Texas. "In the 2000 election, for example, focus groups of Latino voters found George W. Bush and John McCain appealing on a personal level. However, the more they learned about the conservative views of these candidates, the less they liked them." Latinos are interested in many of the same issues affecting the population in general. "National security and the progress of the war in Iraq are important to everyone," Chapa said. "Latino voters are also very concerned with the quality and accessibility of public services, particularly education. Access to affordable health care is a major concern. Many Latinos will be concerned with employment and income issues." A large segment of Latinos will support legislation that addresses the problems of undocumented immigrants. Chapa also will be watching how candidates deal with the other side of this issue. "Throughout the 20th century, sentiments against Mexican immigrants have always increased when unemployment is high," he said. "Anti-immigrant rhetoric was important in California, and that may well be true in other states and perhaps nationally." Chapa can be reached at 812-856-1794 (office), 812-323-2482 (home) or

Unpredictability has emerged as the biggest theme of this year's Democratic primary season, according to Gerald Wright, professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington. What course the campaign will take in the coming weeks is still anyone's guess because of a relatively unknown and untested figure (former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean) leading the pack of Democratic candidates and the volatile situation in Iraq, Wright said. For a candidate to emerge from the crowded field and beat President Bush in November, Wright said, he or she will need to develop a strong and effective message, which Wright believes the Democrats and Al Gore failed to do in 2000. "(Gore) let Bush define both himself and Gore. Dean seems to be more adept at finding a message that will work. The interesting contest is which candidate can best define what the choice is about and where the incumbent has an advantage. Bush's advisers are smart enough to know how to use that advantage," Wright said. Wright's research interests include behavior of voters and the relationships of elections to policy change in Congress and the states. He can be reached at 812-855-6306 (office), 812-876-1267 (home) or

If Howard Dean's bold strategy to target disenfranchised voters is successful, there could be a "major revolution in American politics," according to Lawrence Hanks, professor of political science and former dean of African American Affairs at IUB. "The strategy that Dean is going after is definitely a long shot, but it's very exciting because it goes to the core of what American democracy is all about," Hanks said. If Dean is able to mobilize 10-15 percent of people who normally don't vote, he may be able to truly shake up the political system, Hanks said. He added that targeting the traditional left-wing base of the Democratic Party is definitely a political gamble. "Any reasonable person would try to play to the middle, to go after people who usually vote. It's the safe thing to do," Hanks said. "And yet I think this is one of the things that people find attractive about Dean. They're asking themselves, 'Who would try to do this if he didn't really believe in what he's doing?'" Dean hopes his strategy will pay off in Southern states that include large numbers of minority voters. Several of these states, including South Carolina (Feb. 3), where over 50 percent of state primary voters are expected to be black, have gained prominence in this year's front-loaded primary season. While Dean seemingly has energized many potential voters, there are many more people who are still licking wounds inflicted by the 2000 elections, Hanks said. He believes it might be a while before they return to the polls, no matter how hard Dean tries to woo them back. "Election 2000 was a very hard blow for people on the left. So much effort had gone into getting out the vote in Florida. As it turned out, Florida provided a concrete case for the old mantra of disenfranchised voters, people who don't have jobs, who are low on the socioeconomic totem poll and don't have power -- that maybe their vote doesn't really count." Hanks can be reached at 812-855-9752 or

It's the Internet, stupid. Howard Dean has cleverly capitalized on the Internet's ability to connect thousands of voters nationwide and launched what might be described as the first "21st century grassroots political movement," said Edward Carmines, Rudy Professor of Political Science and director of research for the Center for the Study of Congress at IUB. "One interesting thing about the campaign so far has been the use of the Internet and Howard Dean's exploitation of this medium to a much greater extent than the other candidates," Carmines said. Dean has used the Internet to enlist activists, link supporters and raise more money than any other Democratic candidate. In turn, the medium has helped transform a previously little-known governor from Vermont into one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. "What's unique here is that you have an entire campaign organization that has been developed around the Internet," Carmines said. "Dean's Web site has fit nicely into his fundraising efforts and helped him develop a very large volunteer organization. He developed his site early and kept plugging away at it. All of the candidates have Web sites, but compared to Dean's, the sites are much more primitive." Carmines will teach a course this semester that will focus on presidential elections, using the 2004 election as the main example and covering a variety of issues including the primary system, campaign financing, media advertising and electoral strategy. Carmines can be reached at 812-855-5065 or

The four-star versus the rising star. An interesting battle is raging between retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Democratic front-runner Howard Dean, according to Marjorie Hershey, professor of political science at IUB. Both men have raised a significant amount of money in recent months, with Clark raising almost as much money during the last quarter as Dean. Despite Clark's ability to keep pace with Dean in campaign contributions, his decision to skip Iowa and the "invisible primary" season (the year before an election year in which candidates begin to introduce themselves to voters) promises to affect his effort to establish himself as the alternative to Dean, Hershey said. "Clark is the one candidate who opted out of the typical 'invisible primary' and thus became the odd person out in 2003. I'm not sure if that decision was purposeful, or if he intended to capitalize on his late entry into the race, or whether he genuinely hadn't made up his mind to run. Traditionally, candidates have been able to take advantage of Iowa and New Hampshire to jump-start their campaigns. So Clark took a real risk here," Hershey said. "Yet when the FCC reports come out (Jan. 15), we'll learn he raised almost as much money as Dean last quarter. It might cause some Iowa voters to take notice and perhaps even vote for a stand-in candidate. We're not sure what will happen, but we do know that the percentage of undecided voters is very high, and somebody will ultimately be the anti-Dean." Hershey's research interests include political campaigning, media coverage of campaigns and financing of campaigns. She can be reached at 812-855-5094 (office), 812-332-6473 (home) or

The candidates are off and running, but the real campaign -- the "visual campaign" -- is just getting started, according to Maria Elizabeth "Betsi" Grabe, an associate professor of journalism at IUB who researches the content and effects of audiovisual messages. Grabe has been closely monitoring television coverage of the current campaign and believes that the candidates will soon find out how harsh the camera's scrutiny sometimes can be. "Until now, the candidates have mostly been in charge of crafting their own images through town hall meetings and debates. Once the journalistic storytelling begins, that's when the campaign will really heat up," Grabe said. "We're in an era now where candidates try to control their images, sound bites are shrinking, and more and more reporters are putting themselves center stage. Politics today are played in the media, and that's why the visual images of the candidates, specifically television images, have taken on increasing importance." She said she is curious to see how journalists decide to frame the candidates. "As we know, every presidential candidate, whether it's John McCain being labeled as 'crazy' or Howard Dean as 'angry,' gets framed in a certain way," she said. Grabe can be reached at 812-855-1721 (office), 812-323-1699 (home) or

Additional faculty experts

Ellen Anderson, assistant professor of political science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has special expertise in the current debate over same-sex marriage and its potential impact on the upcoming elections. Other academic interests: political parties and interest groups, general American politics, political behavior, public law, and women and politics. Anderson can be reached at 317-278-7558 (office), 317-283-3749 (home), 317-490-9317 (cell) or

Ramla Bandele, professor of political science at IUPUI. Academic interests include urban politics. Bandele can be reached at 317-274-1463 or

William Blomquist, associate professor of political science at IUPUI. Academic interests: Indiana elections, U.S. presidential and congressional elections. Blomquist can be reached at 317-274-7547 or

Margaret Robertson Ferguson, associate professor of political science at IUPUI. Academic interests: state politics and policy, executive politics and American government. Ferguson can be reached at 317-274-4996 or

James Lutz, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Lutz teaches courses on comparative politics, terrorism and Middle Eastern politics. He can discuss the economic and foreign policy issues that are being debated in the current campaign. Lutz can be reached at 260-481-6688 (office), 260-432-9136 (home) or

Brian Vargas, professor of political science at IUPUI. Academic interests: political behavior, mass media and politics. Vargas can be reached at 317-274-7226 or