SF State News {University Communications}

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University unveils Web redesign

February 8, 2008 -- SF State today rolled out a new Web design template that will provide a visually appealing and unifying design for the University's colleges and departments.

Political scientists share election insights

January 30, 2008 -- As California prepares for its presidential primary on Feb. 5, SF State's political scientists presented their take on the presidential race at an event for alumni, hosted by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Political Science Professor Robert C. Smith addresses the audience.

Political Science Professor Robert C. Smith addresses the audience.

"Obama is a black man trying to run for president by pretending he is not black," said opening panelist Robert C. Smith, a professor of political science and a nationally-recognized expert on African-American politics.

"Historically, when the election race is about black and white, the more liberal party loses," Smith said. "Obama understands this. So do the Clintons. They have stirred the pot and made race into an issue, and this will only disadvantage the Democratic Party no matter who the frontrunner is."

Smith was joined on the panel by political science faculty David Tabb, Frances Neely and Graeme Boushey. Held at the SF State Downtown Campus on Jan. 23, the event was an opportunity for alumni from the College of Behavioral and Social Science to hear from distinguished faculty and engage in a lively debate.

Professor Tabb, whose expertise includes opinion polls, shared perspectives on Clinton's surprising win in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. "What we saw in New Hampshire was 'The Hillary Effect,'" Tabb said. "Obama didn't do worse than expected; Clinton did better than expected, with a higher than normal turnout of female voters. My suspicion is that the gender gap will be greater than the race gap as the contest progresses."

Discussions turned to the media's portrayal of the leadership contest. Boushey, who joined SF State in fall 2007 as assistant professor of political science, weighed in on the lack of media coverage on policy issues: "The media's focus on horserace politics is damaging to American politics. Sixty-eight percent of election coverage is devoted to who is ahead in the polls and fundraising. Seventeen percent is dedicated to policy issues and just five percent to leadership issues. The American public is largely making their decision based on poll positions."

Looking ahead to the general election in November, some panel members predicted a close McCain-Clinton contest, but faculty quickly pointed out that no political scientist has a crystal ball, and the race is still very open.

Professors from the SF State political science department discuss the California primary election

Professors from the SF State political science department discuss the California primary election.

Professor Neely, an expert in media and politics and political psychology, gave the following advice to voters: "Hope, fear and anxiety are real influences on voter turnout and choice," he said. "Throughout the primaries, the media talks a lot about winners and losers. This simplifies the story. I encourage voters to think in terms of candidates' relative success and to keep a track on delegate counts. It's anybody's gain on that count."

This event was the first in a line up of 2008 election events hosted by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

On Feb. 5 the public is invited to join faculty and students as they watch the results of the California primary on a big-screen television while a panel of political science faculty provide real-time analysis from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday in the McKenna Theatre, 129 Creative Arts Building, SF State campus, 1600 Holloway Ave. For more information, visit the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Web Site.

Later in the year, look for details of the college's fall 2008 public lecture series, which will focus on the presidential election.

-- Elaine Bible

-- Michael Bruntz


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