Saturday, November 10, 2012

Likely Studies of the 2012 Election

Every major event, and especially every presidential election, produces scores of academic studies.  2012 will be no different.  So what studies are we most likely to see eventually appear in the major academic journals?  Probably many of the same questions found in news accounts, but lemme take a stab at some likely themes.
  • White Men Can't Vote.  Put in this category the studies that attempt to explain the Obama coalition and the role of the white versus non-white vote.  You'll find these mostly in political science journals, perhaps in sociology, trying to explain the dwindling role of white voters.
  • Obama is Still Muslim, etc.  Here you'll find studies of why people did not vote for Obama, based mainly on racism as a factor but also belief in the various myths surrounding him (Muslim, born outside the U.S., is a space alien, and so on). These studies will be found everywhere, including masscomm (note, this is an area of interest to me as well).
  • Where'd The Christians Go?  By this, I obviously mean the conservative or evangelical vote and the small role it seemed to play in this presidential election compared to others.  You'll find these studies everywhere from political science to religion to masscomm, such as Journal of Media and Religion.
  • The Roles of Polls.  In this, I expect to see a study or maybe several studies on the roles the polls play, from individual surveys to Nate Silver and the gang of geek/nerds who so correctly called the 2012 outcome.  Expect to see a lot of this stuff in Public Opinion Quarterly.
  • Sandy.  Yes, there will be studies that attempt to explain much more fully than you see in the press about the role of Hurricane Sandy and the like.  Short answer: very little, but I'm sure we'll see analyses of it in the political science journals.
  • Twitter and Social Media.  Yes, there will be a number of analyses of Twitter, from its role in the debates to whether it is a useful predictor of the election outcome.  A lot of this is basic content analysis, called by my major professor the "great intellectual cul-de-sac."  But analyzing big data is the future.  You'll find this mostly in the more geeky journals out of computer science.

Got any others?  Feel free to add some in the comments section below.  For the uninitiated out there, understand it can take as long as two years before an academic study sees publication.

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