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Expert Analysis

Read articles, watch video analyses and hear podcasts produced by professors in the College of Humanities and Sciences on the major issues of this year's elections, as well as the political history that has shaped our present-day problems and choices.


bulletin board that says 'voting day' with stickers that read 'i voted'
What just happened? VCU alumni journalists discuss the unfolding 2020 presidential election results.
Can we ever trust polls again? Why did Biden crater among Latino voters in South Florida? And how can people know what news sources to trust?
polling place with individual voting kiosks
What to watch for on Election Day
VCU experts say early voting, voter turnout and the role of the suburbs could be key in this year’s elections.
chess board with pawns
Student debate: VCU Young Democrats versus College Republicans
On Oct. 26 VCU's Young Democrats and College Republicans faced off in a virtual debate about many of the key issues voters will consider in the 2020 election.
piggy bank with uneven stacks of coins
Comparing Biden and Trump on economic inequality
The economic impact of market restrictions prompted by the pandemic—not to mention the coronavirus’s broader toll of more than 200,000 Americans deaths and other losses from ruined health and well-being—will likely linger well into the next president’s term. In the meantime, the pandemic appears to be accelerating trends toward greater income and wealth inequality within the country.
a hand putting a ballot in a box
What to expect when you're expecting to elect a president
How likely is it that we'll know the outcome of the presidential election when we wake up on November 4th? In this video from a recent webinar, Political Science faculty at VCU say Americans should brace for uncertainty and explain a number of factors that might complicate the process of declaring a winner such as the COVID-19 pandemic, voter suppression tactics, the Electoral College and the media's corporate imperative.
civil discourse
Electoral certification
This episode of VCU’s "Civil Discourse" podcast explores the election certification process, possible problems with the process at each stage, and potential solutions.
person holding an american flag and wearing a shirt pin that reads vote
Creating a personalized voting plan
There is good scientific evidence that if young people turned out at the same rates as older citizens, American democracy would be transformed. Here's how to make your voting plan today.
stickers scattered on a floor that read 'i voted'
The right to vote: Election integrity and advocacy
Alex Keena, Ph.D., moderates a webinar discussion sponsored by the VCU Office of Alumni Relations on election integrity and advocacy efforts in the lead up to the 2020 elections. He is joined by a panel of VCU alumni involved in the protection of free and fair elections, voter registration and advocacy efforts and issues regarding voting accessibility and security.
face mask with a u.s.a. flag pattern held against an actual u.s.a. flag
The pandemic and the presidential contenders
In this video, Judyth Twigg, Ph.D., examines the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s critique of that response. Twigg also compares the Trump and Biden campaigns’ proposals for handling the COVID-19 crisis going forward.
a person looking into a crystal ball
Predicting the 2020 election
Everywhere you look there are predictions. But what do we really know?
person looking at a laptop screen that reads 'fake news' in big, bold letters
Protecting yourself from mis- and disinformation during the election campaign
Dr. Wintersieck helps voters prepare for the oceans of mis- and disinformation that will flood social media from now through Election Day.
woman with hands on hips in front of brick wall
Black women and the burden of U.S. democracy
Black women continue to occupy a unique position in American politics. Their status remains widely misunderstood and undetermined. In this article, I focus on one aspect of that problem that is often overlooked: the exceptional burden they carry in the democratic process.
the united states separated into puzzle pieces of varying colors
How gerrymandering in the states could lead to President Trump’s re-election
As we approach the 2020 presidential election, there is growing concern over the U.S. states’ ability to administer the election during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors write that if the election result is close, and there are questions over the vote count, then state legislatures which are Republican-dominated due to partisan gerrymandering may attempt to intervene and make their own decisions on their state’s presidential electors.
donald trump giving a speech
Did President Trump and the RNC violate the Hatch Act?
The Democrats in the House of Representatives have asked the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether Republican National Convention actions violated the Hatch Act, a law intended to protect/limit unelected, career civil servants.
state department building in washington d.c.
America’s global leadership and the restoration of a strong, effective State Department
President Trump entered office with a pledge to disrupt the foreign policy establishment, in order to focus on U.S. national interests with an “America first” perspective. As Prof. Saladino argues, Trump’s efforts have not succeeded. Instead, they have profoundly diminished America’s global leadership, and have otherwise reduced the federal government’s ability to achieve its objectives. The presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, he argues, amounts to a high-stakes choice about America’s role in the world, and its ability to achieve necessary foreign policy goals.
a video camera filming a news anchor
Biased, negative and obsessed with polls: Why voters are frustrated with election news
News audiences are often critical of election news coverage, accusing political reporting of being too negative, too focused on polling and too biased against a particular candidate. Mallory Perryman, Ph.D., studies public perceptions of news and walks us through three major problems that audiences have with election coverage and why – despite these complaints – election news is the way it is.
civil discourse
This episode of VCU’s "Civil Discourse" podcast explores campaign rhetoric this election season. The discussion of lines crossed and regretted utterances circles back to the concept of civilized political speech and the potential negatives of mudslinging.
Image matters: The importance of the 2020 elections to the international community
In addition to highlighting the importance of the 2020 elections to the international community, Dr. Okoth examines how the presidential electoral outcome will affect America’s external image. Why does the external image of a country matter, and why should it be linked to the presidential election?
walt whitman
Enact democracy this November – and beyond
Even as we seek to encourage voting, and to increase turnout despite being mired in the midst of a pandemic, it may be worth returning to one of the great American poets and political thinkers for some perspective on democracy.
mind map for the word gerrymander - the related words to gerrymander are boundaries, district, majority, gaining, ethnic, votes, minority, and advantage
The history of gerrymandering and how it might affect the 2020 elections
In this video, Bill Oglesby, J.D., tells us about the history of gerrymandering and the efforts at redistricting reform.
a burning fire on the horizon
We started the fire: The implications of election 2020 on climate change and planetary habitability
In this video, Andrea Simonelli, Ph.D., compares Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s very different approaches to the climate change problem.
Official program - Woman suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. March 3, 1913. Cover of program for the National American Women's Suffrage Association procession, showing woman, in elaborate attire, with cape, blowing long horn, from which is draped a
The 19th Amendment: Votes for Women — Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., on white female suffrage
In this video, which is part of a three-part video series exploring issues of American suffrage in this anniversary year of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Katheryn Coker of the Richmond Public Library and Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., of the VCU Department of History discuss the issues surrounding white female suffrage at the turn of the century.
New Constitution Society for Women's Suffrage office and workers in Whitechapel around 1914
The 19th Amendment: Votes for Women — John Aughenbaugh, Ph.D., on legal issues surrounding suffrage
In this video, which is part of a three-part video series exploring issues of American suffrage in this anniversary year of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Meldon Jenkins-Jones of the Richmond Public Library and John Aughenbaugh of the VCU Department of Political Science discuss the legal cases and legislation that surrounds the questions of suffrage, from passage of the 19th Amendment to explorations of the future of suffrage.