Friday, November 2, 2012

Election news from campuses in the swing states

Here's this week's collection of election news from state universities in swing states that I originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Frankenstorm edition) on Daily Kos. Hey, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

First, the most popular of the political stories that I tweeted as I put together last Saturday's OND.

Purdue University: Prof: Election season makes it hard to like some Facebook friends
October 25, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — People dropping Facebook friends over political differences is a reminder that some of those so-called friendships are virtual, not the face-to-face type, says a Purdue University communication professor.

"Facebook friendships are often diluted, because the reality of managing dozens, hundreds or thousands of these friendships is just not possible," says Glenn Sparks, who studies mass media effects and interpersonal relationships. "That's why people are easily surprised when some of their Facebook friends post or like different political candidates or issues. It begs the question of how well do you really know these people. And, it also explains why people can quickly dismiss these connections."

Sparks, who is co-author of "Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection," says the ease of dropping these social media friends is a reminder that weaker social connections should not be a replacement for face-to-face interactions.
Take heart. The election will be over in less than a week. With any luck, your Facebook feed will return to normal after that.

Follow over the jump for more stories from the three Arizona universities, University of Colorado, and Iowa State University.

University of Arizona: UA's Kate Kenski Tracks Election Through Talking Points, Tweets
Kate Kenski, an associate professor in the UA communication department, is studying the 2012 election using talking points, Twitter feeds and also jokes.
By Lori Harwood and Drew Miller, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
October 22, 2012
Election season is to politics-watchers as tax season is to accountants. There are polls to follow, debates to dissect and political ads to analyze.

For Kate Kenski, an associate professor in the University of Arizona communication department and School of Government and Public Policy, election season provides a wealth of data that she analyzes to write and teach about public opinion and political communication.

For the 2012 election, Kenski is keeping a keen eye on whether the frequent explanations for wins and losses in previous campaigns hold true for this campaign. Will the economy be the determining factor? Or will candidate personality or message strategy tip the campaign in one candidate's direction over the other's?
I might use both this article and the lead in a compilation about social media.

Arizona State University: News21 Voting Rights series available as e-book
Posted: October 24, 2012
A major national investigation into voting rights in the U.S. is now available in e-book form.

“Who Can Vote?” is the 2012 project of Carnegie-Knight News21, a national investigative reporting initiative funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The goal of News21, headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, is to produce in-depth, innovative and interactive investigative journalism on issues of national importance.

Twenty-four students from 11 universities across the country worked on the voting rights project under the direction of journalism professionals. The fellows traveled to more than 40 cities, 21 states and one U.S. territory, conducted more than 1,000 interviews, requested thousands of public records and reviewed nearly 5,000 documents. Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported cases of election fraud in the U.S. since 2000, building the most comprehensive database of its kind.

The finished project, launched just before the 2012 national political conventions, consists of more than 20 in-depth reports and rich multimedia content that includes interactive databases and data visualizations, video profiles and photo galleries. Portions of the project were published by The Washington Post,, National Public Radio, the Center for Public Integrity and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Northern Arizona University: New collaboration puts NAU in national spotlight to promote democracy
October 18, 2012
While the nation plows through another acrimonious election season where “civil discourse” is often contentious at best, Northern Arizona University finds itself among an elite group of institutions across the country striving to bring civility and reasoning back into the democratic process.

NAU’s newly created Consortium for Public Life and Learning—a collaboration between the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Arts and Letters—recently was invited to participate in an affiliation process with the non-partisan Kettering Foundation, whose mission focuses on how democracy works and on promoting public engagement and deliberation.

“Americans are losing the ability to have civil disagreements,” said Lori Poloni-Staudinger, associate professor of politics and international affairs. Further, she added, today’s college students say they don’t think being involved makes a difference. “They don’t necessarily care about politics and their knowledge of political issues has decreased. All of this is very unhealthy for democracy.”

A more effective scenario, she said, would involve an engaged citizenry that takes time to understand all sides of an issue, that listens to divergent opinions and that uses reasoned deliberation before responding.
And now, an announcement of a post-election event.

Iowa State University: CNN’s Crowley to analyze election results Nov. 13 at Iowa State
October 25, 2012
AMES, Iowa – Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, will deliver a lecture at Iowa State University on Tuesday, Nov. 13, one week after Americans go to the polls for the 2012 election.

Crowley will analyze the results of the election and provide insight from her storied career covering national politics as the fall 2012 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. The event, to be held in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union at 7:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.
Finally, some state level politics that affects education policy.

University of Colorado, Denver: At-large Regent candidates debate range of issues Shrinking funding for higher education is grim backdrop for forum By Chris Casey/University Communications
AURORA, Colo. -- The four candidates for an at-large Board of Regents seat debated ways to maintain affordable and high-quality education at the University of Colorado, and shared views on grade forgiveness, privatized programs, conceal-carry gun permits and other issues.

About 60 people attended the debate at the Anschutz Medical Campus on Thursday evening. The event was hosted and moderated by members of the Anschutz Medical Campus Student Senate and the Student Government Association of CU Denver.

The candidates are incumbent Stephen Ludwig (Democrat), a corporate communications professional; Dr. Brian Davidson (Republican), a physician and faculty anesthesiologist at the Anschutz Medical Campus; non-traditional student Daniel Ong (Libertarian); and high school student Tyler Belmont (American Constitution Party). Ludwig narrowly defeated Davidson for one of the nine-member board's two at-large seats six years ago.
Speaking of university governing boards, the Detroit Free Press endorsed six candidates, four Democrats and two Republicans, for the three elected university boards governing the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. I should write an article about that for, if I can figure out a newsworthy angle.

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