University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Professor Brian Schaffner’s recent study shows why some Sanders supporters voted for Trump. Several media outlets have recently carried his analyses based on data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. The NPR report is here and an interview with Vox is here.

Paul Musgrave, political science, says the recent heightening of tension and sharp rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea is different from past episodes. He says President Donald J. Trump spends much less time with his foreign policy advisors than previous presidents and those advisors have less experience dealing with crises. "For 25 years, we've been in a relatively dangerous situation, but now these two things have happened. Both of them happening simultaneously raises the possibility of miscommunication, of miscalculation," he says. Still, Musgrave says he thinks diplomacy will be needed to lower tensions. (Gazette, 8/10/17)

Professor Frederic Schaffer will deliver a keynote address at the 20th International Conference on Conceptual History, “Concepts in the World: Politics, Knowledge, and Time,” to be hosted by the University of Oslo, Norway on September 21-23, 2017. 

Professor Musgrave, Political Science, says it is highly unlikely that the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea will lead to a nuclear standoff or the use of military force, but he thinks the harsh rhetoric may be heightening tensions. Musgrave says President Donald J. Trump’s threats aren’t helpful. “The president is a little more bellicose than most experts would recommend,” he says. (REPUBLICAN, 8/9/17)

An essay by Brian F. Schaffner, political science, and Rishab Nithyanand and Phillipa Gill, computer science, looks at how offensive political comments posted on Reddit, the social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website, become more popular when politicians are being extremely offensive. They tested every political comment on Reddit from January 2015 to January 2016 and rated them for offensiveness. They conclude that the tone of political comments on Reddit responds to how politicians were behaving. (Vox, 8/7/17)

Professor Raymond J. La Raja comments in a news analysis about how campaign fundraising has changed in response to court rulings that allow large donors to give to joint fundraising committees that direct the money to state and national political parties. The result is giving parties large sums of money whose origin is hard to detect. “I don’t like these kinds of politics, where money is just circulating in these circuitous ways,” La Raja says. (Politico, 8/4/17)

Professor Paul Musgrave, says President Donald J. Trump’s decision to attack Congress over the Russian sanctions bill he doesn’t like is politics as usual. “Doing it directly by tweet, in a vague and threatening manner, is not,” he says. The comments are in a story about how the tensions between the American president and lawmakers over the sanctions probably benefit the Russians most of all. (Vox, 8/4/17)

Professor Paul Musgrave, Political Science is quoted in a Newsweek article on how the concept of the “deep state” conspiracy theory made its way to mainstream dialogue. Musgrave cautions that the confrontational attitude adopted by President Trump and his supporters goes beyond “just the context of Russia,” to more widely reflect the President’s self-professed outsider status, which sees “President Trump insulting or targeting intelligence agencies in the period up to the inauguration. And this was perceived to be something that could really spark a backlash from members of American intelligence agencies.”


An essay co-authored by Brian F. Schaffner and Jesse H. Rhodes looks at how automatic voter registration works in Oregon and why that state saw the largest increase in voter turnout in the country during the 2016 election. They note that the turnout increase came in a state that had no contested race for the U.S. Senate and virtually no investment in advertisement dollars by the presidential candidates because Oregon isn’t considered a battleground state. (The Nation, 7/27/17)

By Thanassis Cambanis July 15, 2017

Read original article here.

“The state continues to be the basic building block of politics. Fragile states don’t diminish that fact,” said Alasdair Roberts, incoming director of the school of public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.