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SFSU faculty experts available to comment on presidential election



Matt Itelson
SFSU Office of Public Affairs & Publications
(415) 338-1743
(415) 338-1665


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications


Faculty possess wide range of expertise, including debates, rhetoric, polls, religion, ethics

SAN FRANCISCO, September 27, 2004 -- San Francisco State University offers a wide variety of experts on national politics who can provide analysis of the 2004 race for the White House. See below for SFSU faculty who offer their expert perspectives on various aspects of the race.

For additional assistance locating an expert, contact the SFSU Office of Public Affairs and Publications at (415) 338-1665 or or visit:

David Tabb, professor of political science, is an expert on national politics, polling, voting patterns, and media and elections. He can be reached at (510) 525-0890 (home) or

"It is important to know that in actual elections, more Democrats vote than Republicans (by about 4 percent). Most current polls like Gallup who use 'likely voter' models overestimate the percent of Republican voters," Tabb said. "Currently, Bush is 'really' ahead by about 2-3 percent, which is within the 'margin of error.' The election is still up for grabs."

Robert C. Smith, professor of political science, is an expert on American politics, the presidency and African American voting patterns. He can be reached at (415) 338-7524 (office), (510) 222-7273 (home) or

"As the 2004 campaign enters its final weeks, it is striking how issues of race, civil rights and poverty have disappeared from the debates," Smith said. "From 1968 to 2000 policies related to race were — directly or indirectly — important campaign issues, dividing the two parties and often serving as divisive wedge issues for the GOP.

"However, since 2000 such issues have disappeared from presidential campaigns. This is mainly because the Democratic Party under Clinton effectively co-opted or embraced Republican positions on the race-related issues of crime, welfare and affirmative action/quotas. The Clinton Democratic Party also abandoned its traditional concerns with the problem of poverty in favor of a focus on the middle class."

Gerard Heather, professor of political science, is an expert on religion in politics and the ethics of politics. He can be reached at (415) 338-1019 (office), (415) 584-1387 (home) or

"Religious conflict has been a permanent part of American political discourse," Heather said. "The evangelical right has become a major force in Republican politics, particularly after the Roe v. Wade decision in the 1970s."

Francis Neely, assistant professor of political science, is an expert on national politics, including media influence of political attitudes. He can be reached at (415) 338-1522 (office), (415) 386-3748 (home) or

"New developments in the so-called war on terror or in Iraq or Afghanistan could sway voters one way or another," Neely said. "Bush is in a preferred position in that regard: a sitting president at a time of war. The public tends to rally behind its leaders during times of crisis, and some voters will be less likely to opt for a change in administrations if latent fears about national security are revived. Kerry's ability to gain support will depend on how well he can convey a message that Bush has failed as a leader in this regard."

Philip Kipper, chair and professor of broadcast and electronic communication arts, can discuss presidential debates and media coverage of the campaigns. He is a former radio, newspaper and magazine reporter, and his areas of expertise include analyzing televised political debates and news writing for the electronic media. He can be reached at (415) 338-1788 (office), (415) 664-0968 (home) or

"Unfortunately, the format for the debates, as agreed by the campaigns, will invite more speechifying than any spontaneous give and take," Kipper said. "This is a recipe for broad open questions that simply prompt the candidates to trot out their typical campaign rhetoric. The reason for this restrictive approach is that the Bush campaign, in particular, doesn't want a head-to-head spontaneous confrontation where its candidate could make a big mistake.

"Factors such as camera angles, lighting, shot selection, as well as unexpected questions and challenges from one's opponent, provide a fluid environment that holds many perils for candidates. Small wonder they want the details of the debates to be fixed and few opportunities for the unexpected to pop up."


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Last modified April 20, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications