The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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UMass Amherst has begun offering a Master of Science degree in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science. Details are available on the program website. (Inside Higher Ed, 11/10/20; News Office release)

Faculty members Laura Colmenarejo, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Elizabeth Sharrow, Associate Professor of Public Policy & History, both of UMass Amherst, were among women in downtown Northampton reacting to the election of California Senator Kamala Harris.  Harris is the nation’s first female, first Black person, and first Asian American to be elected as Vice President. Colmenarejo said Harris represents hope for the future. Sharrow said, “I think there is good reason to believe that the election of Senator Kamala Harris to the vice presidency is likely to have long-term impacts on how girls — and girls of color, in particular — orient themselves to politics.” (Daily Hampshire Gazette, 11/9/20)

Tatishe Nteta, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, appeared on the program “Basic Black,” following the 2020 presidential election, to discuss the role of opinion polling. Reflecting upon the ways in which he believes that many people use polls incorrectly, Nteta says, “Polls are not soothsayers. This is not Ides of March. This is not Julius Caesar. They tell a picture when the polling occurs. The media has used this in a predictive fashion but pollsters never, myself included, intend for these to be predictive.” (WGBH-TV Boston, 11/6/20) Watch video here.

Jesse Rhodes, Professor of Political Science, and Paul Collins, Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science, both at UMass Amherst, are quoted in an article about the delay in learning the results of the presidential election.  In the article, which was published before news outlets called the election in favor of now President-elect Joe Biden, both Rhodes and Collins noted the likelihood of Biden’s victory.

Three years ago, when tensions were high with Iran, political scientists from Dartmouth and Stanford released a study claiming that Americans would have little respect for the norm of civilian immunity in a war with Iran. New research by Charli Carpenter, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst  and Alexander Montgomery, Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed College, shows this finding was highly misleading with over 80% of Americans saying civilians should never be the object of attack in war.

An editorial in the Boston Globe, arguing that the defeat of Massachusetts ballot Question 2 is “a failure for democracy” cites findings from a UMass Amherst/WCVB poll showing 83% of voters under 30 supported the measure.  Ballot Question 2 supported the  implementation of ranked choice voting in the Commonwealth. (The Boston Globe, 11/4/20)

Jesse Rhodes, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst and Associate Director of the UMass Poll, was quoted in a Boston Globe article about the inaccuracy of pre-election polling. Rhodes said, “Polling within states for presidential races is notoriously difficult. Given the difficulties of predicting outcomes at the state level, it is essential to take any given poll within a battleground state (particularly one that appears to give a candidate a huge advantage) with a very large grain of salt.”

UMass Amherst has announced that it will offer a Master of Science degree in Data Analytics and Computational Social Science as part of an interdisciplinary academic program taught by over 50 faculty members, which includes cooperation from 13 departments from different schools and colleges across campus.

Ray La Raja, Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst and Associate Director of the UMass Poll, comments in an article about reasons behind increased support for President Trump by Latino voters in this year’s election.  La Raja says Latinos still support the Democratic ticket, but they don’t necessarily agree with the Democratic Party on every issue. “When you have elements of the Democratic Party calling for defunding the police, that is the last thing people in some of these communities want to hear,” he says.

Amel Ahmed, Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Amherst, is quoted in an article about the defeat of Question 2, the ranked choice ballot initiative in Massachusetts. “You’re asking voters who had representatives elected under one system to choose to move to a different system with an uncertain future,” she said. “I’d be surprised if people were not really hesitant about making such a dramatic change to all elections in Massachusetts.” (CommonWealth, 11/4/20)