Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

October 17, 2008
CONTACT: Amy Lunday

Johns Hopkins Sources for
2008 Presidential Election Stories

For stories about the 2008 presidential campaign, consider the following sources from The Johns Hopkins University. Listed with each source is a brief description of his or her area of expertise. Specific contact information is listed for some sources; in cases where it is not, contact Amy Lunday at (443) 287-9960 or acl@jhu.edu.

Race and the Presidency, Going Forward: Presidential politics from an African-American perspective
Lester Spence, assistant professor of political science

Spence says that one of the most important questions about this year's presidential campaign has been whether race will dampen Obama's electoral chances. With Obama taking what appears to be a formidable lead among the nationwide electorate, it appears, Spence says, that the "Bradley Effect" will not be large enough to derail the election of the first non-white president. "While those who argue this represents tremendous progress are not wrong, there are two related questions that bear further analysis," he says. "During several recent rallies sponsored by the McCain-Palin campaign, whites have expressed fear, disdain, and anger at the possibility of an Obama presidency. Will Obama have to contend with questions of legitimacy because of his race? On the other side, black progressives have urged that Obama's race should not prevent blacks from critiquing his policy proposals, only to be criticized by other blacks concerned about Obama's electoral chances. Will this continue once Obama is elected?"
   Reporters seeking an African-American viewpoint on the 2008 presidential election should consider working with Spence, whose areas of expertise include black politics, race in popular culture, public opinion, political behavior, and the legitimacy of the American courts in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. Spence, who is African American, has appeared regularly on National Public Radio, has served as a source for news stories and offered commentary in such media outlets as the Washington Post, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, Africana.com and Salon.com. More information about Spence's projects can be found at his Web site, blacksmythe.com/. You can reach Spence directly at 410- 948-2709.

Election civility: Trash-talking candidates and water cooler debates
P.M. Forni, director of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and professor of Italian literature

The candidates' gloves are off on the homestretch of the campaign trail. Civility expert P.M. Forni is available to talk to reporters about the increasingly bitter presidential campaign rhetoric, one of the latest chapters being Sen. McCain's dismissive and much talked-about referral to Sen. Obama as "that guy" during the Oct. 7 debate. Forni is available to discuss how the candidates are behaving, whether they are projecting the qualities of civility that we expect in our leaders and how the public might perceive these tactics (many polls seem to show that voters are turned off anytime one of the candidates speaks negatively of his opponent).
   As Gov. Palin might put it, "Joe Sixpack" also suffers from political incivility when debates turn friends and co-workers into sparring partners. Forni can offer ways to defuse arguments and techniques for people to express themselves without offending acquaintances with differing political views. Forni is the author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct. Its follow-up, The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude, was published by St. Martin's Press in June. Read Forni's tips online at www.jhu.edu/news/home08/jan08/civility.html.

The Impact of the Mortgage Crisis on the Presidential Campaign
Roger Staiger, adjunct professor of real estate, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Staiger is available to discuss the impact of the current mortgage crisis, and the effects of the financial turmoil in general, on the election. He holds an MS in finance from George Washington University, an MA in international trade from George Mason University, and an MBA in finance and investments from George Washington. His professional experience includes positions with energy, construction, consulting, finance, and loan companies. Contact Patrick Ercolano at 410-516-6955 or pae@jhu.edu.

Electronic Medical Records, Lowering Health Care Costs and Covering the Uninsured
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have both endorsed using electronic medical records and information technology as a means to improve the quality of health care in the United States and contain high costs.
   Jonathan Weiner, DrPH, professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, studies the application of electronic health records and how their use could reform health care in the United States. Weiner can also discuss the candidates' plans for expanding health care coverage to the uninsured. Contact Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.

Health Care and the Presidential Campaign
Douglas Hough, assistant professor of the business of health, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Hough has been a research economist at the American Medical Association, a manager in the health care consulting division of Coopers & Lybrand, and a partner in two health care strategy consulting firms. He is a frequent speaker and author on health care issues as they relate to physicians. He is co-editor of the three-volume set The Business of Healthcare, published by Praeger. Hough earned an MS and a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin and a BS in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Contact Patrick Ercolano at 410-516-6955 or pae@jhu.edu.

Business and the Presidential Campaign
Phillip H. Phan, professor of management, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Phan can address a number of business-related topics, including mergers and acquisitions; strategic alliances; innovation and entrepreneurship; the airline industry, software, and forestry industries; telecommunications and media; and corporate governance. Phan has consulted for numerous organizations including the World Bank, Hewlett- Packard, Nokia, Ernst & Young, and Singapore Airlines, and he is a regular expert contributor to major media outlets around the world. He earned a PhD in strategic management from the University of Washington. Contact Patrick Ercolano at 410-516-6955 or pae@jhu.edu.

Foreign Policy and the Election
Johns Hopkins can offer numerous sources at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies who can speak to reporters about foreign policy and the election. For information, contact Felisa Neuringer Klubes, director of communications and marketing, at 202-663-5626 or fklubes@jhu.edu.

Presidential power
Matthew Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, professors of political science

The American presidency is out of control and this long campaign has offered little hope of restoring the traditional balance of power in Washington, say Matthew Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, Johns Hopkins political scientists and authors of Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced (W.W. Norton & Co., April 2007, $27.95). Picking up where Crenson's and Ginsberg's first co-authored book, Downsizing Democracy, left off, Presidential Power explains the exponential growth of the White House's authority since the mid-20th century. Writing for a general audience, they approach their subject as they would a murder mystery, looking at the motives, means and opportunities leading to the aggrandizement of power by the commanders-in-chief. More details about the book are available online at www.jhu.edu/news/home07/jun07/prespowr.html.

Embracing cynicism in the face of political posturing
Benjamin Ginsberg, professor of political science

If you hate politics, you aren't alone. In his book The American Lie: Government by the People and Other Political Fables (Paradigm Publishers, July 2007), Johns Hopkins political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg suggests that embracing one's inner cynic is important for keeping political rhetoric at bay. Politics is not about truth, justice and principle, Ginsberg asserts. Rather, he says, it's about money, power and status. Ginsberg argues that politicians pretend to fight for principle in order to conceal their true selfish motives. Ginsberg encourages citizens to become "realistically cynical" in their participation in the 2008 election process, to think outside the ballot box and find new ways to act on behalf of their own individual interests and the greater public good. And if voters do make it to the polls, Ginsberg's advice is, "When in doubt, vote them out." Details on the book are online at www.jhu.edu/news/home07/jul07/ginsberg.html.

Electronic Voting Machines: Can We Trust Their Results?
Avi Rubin, professor of computer science and technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins

Avi Rubin has conducted research on the electronic voting machines that many states bought to try to avoid the "hanging chads" and other punch card ballot problems that created an uproar during the 2000 presidential election. Rubin believes the touchscreen machines pose problems of their own, because they are vulnerable to tampering and, in the absence of a paper trail, do not permit a meaningful recount in a contested race. Rubin has testified before government panels regarding his concerns. He also has studied security hazards posed by Internet voting. In addition to his research, Rubin can discuss his hands-on election-day experiences with voting machines as an election judge in Baltimore County. Rubin's book Brave New Ballot: The Battle to Safeguard Democracy in the Age of Electronic Voting (Random House, September 2006) tells of both his role as a whistle-blower and his observations of electronic voting in action. Rubin leads A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable and Transparent Elections (ACCURATE), a team of computer scientists and other academic researchers from across the country working to help bring the latest research, insights and innovations from the lab to the voting booth, with funding from the National Science Foundation. See www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111660 . Contact Phil Sneiderman at 443-287-9960 or prs@jhu.edu.

K-12 Education and the Election
Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at the School of Education; director of the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York, England; and co-founder and chairman of the Success for All Foundation

A national expert on school reform, he can speak to a broad range of pressing educational issues in our nation's public school system, including No Child Left Behind, school testing and literacy. Contact: rslavin@jhu.edu or Chris Atkins Godack, (410) 516-8590 or cgodack@jhu.edu.

Public policy and propaganda on the campaign trail
Martin Lattman, instructor, Department of Marketing, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

While Martin Lattman isn't a political scholar, his marketing expertise would be useful to reporters interested in understanding the positioning that the candidates are trying to achieve. Specifically, this refers to the distinctive place that Obama and McCain are hoping to occupy in the minds of their target voter audiences. "For politicians, this is a particularly vexing challenge because they're trying to appeal to multiple constituencies," Lattman said. "I think that Obama has done a reasonably good job with this, whereas McCain is lagging at this stage. In fairness to him, he has the burden of being associated with an unpopular president, so he's faced with the dilemma of how aggressively he should separate himself from the Bush administration."