Polis Research Blog

Political scientists at Duke University draw upon a variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to produce cutting-edge research that enhances our understanding of politics.  Polis is committed to showcasing political science research at Duke and to facilitating its creation.

Professor McCorkle on “Countrypolitan” Counties and the NC Senate Race, The New York Times

Professor McCorkle has been quoted in The New York Times on the North Carolina Senate race along with his and Rachel Salzberg’s (MPP ’20) paper “The Democrats’ Countrypolitan Problem in North Carolina: Progressive Challenge and Opportunity.

In the report, Professor McCorkle and Salzberg describe “countrypolitan” counties as the biggest challenge for North Carolina Democrats to turn the state blue. They describe “countrypolitan” counties as those with geographic and economic proximity to bigger metropolitan areas but still “retain significant rural and/or small-town legacies.” These counties have prevented metropolitan areas from becoming as diverse and politically fluid as the suburbs of Atlanta have been for Georgia.

However, Professor McCorkle tells The New York Times not to rule out Democrat Cheri Beasley from the NC Senate race entirely. Abortion will be a main deciding factor in the election results, and North Carolina has leaned more liberal on the issue over other Southern states.

Read McCorkle and Salzberg’s full paper on the Polis website here

Also, click here to read his full remarks in the New York Times

Polis Steering Committee Members and Faculty Discuss the Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling on Midterm Elections

Professor Kerry Haynie, Professor Asher Hildebrand and Professor Mac McCorkle discuss the significance of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling on the upcoming North Carolina midterm elections.

“That [abortion] decision … throws things up in the air...We don’t yet know what will happen. I suspect it will be an advantage for Democratic candidates in this state and across the country. I suspect there are some Republican women and independent women who otherwise would be attracted to Republican candidates who may shift and vote for Democratic candidates.” - Professor Kerry Haynie

“The election was shaping up to be a referendum on an unpopular president – an historically unpopular president. Democrats in Congress, despite some early victories, had their agenda largely stymied by internal divisions, as well as by unified Republican [opposition] in Congress. Inflation or price politics and other economic concerns dominated in voters’ minds. And on top of that you had the less pronounced but still very real structural advantage created by gerrymandering created by Republicans. Since then, the defining issue has been abortion and the reaction to the Dobbs decision in many voters’ minds.” - Professor Hildebrand

“It looks like Democrats are way more excited about Cheri Beasley than Republicans are about Congressman [Ted] Budd...I think the Budd people are a little bit in crisis in trying to figure out what their message is. Is he a generic R or is he a Trump Republican?” - Professor McCorkle on the N.C. Senate Race.

“A Call for Leadership: Political Polarization and Civil Discourse at Duke University” by Chloe Nguyen (PPS ’24)

In her report, "A Call for Leadership: Political Polarization and Civil Discourse at Duke University," Chloe Nguyen (PPS'24) examines how Duke University can utilize social psychology research to improve civil discourse and political polarization amongst the student body.

After reflecting on the importance of civil discourse and depolarization for democracy, her work defines civil discourse and outlines a pilot program for first years that can help set norms which encourage discourse, collaboration, and relationship building on campus. It also outlines a series of suggestions to improve conversations on difficult topics in lecture halls, seminars, and extracurricular programming. Overall, this work hopes to provide a framework through which educators at Duke can employ social psychology research to foster campus norms which set up future leaders to improve our democracy.

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Professor Rose on Title IX’s Legacy, The New York Times

The New York Times recently reflected on Title IX’s 50 year legacy. Title IX was signed in 1972 and prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded schools and education programs. It has outlasted The Equal Rights Amendment and Roe v. Wade in protecting women’s rights.

Professor Deondra Rose argues that Title IX’s advantage was that it was vague, giving “the regulation a fighting chance over time.” This vagueness has allowed different administrations to evolve the provision to become more inclusive. For instance, The Education Department announced in 2021 that it would extend Title IX protections to transgender students. However, the vagueness has also allowed policymakers to enact laws or rules that restrict participation in girls’ sports divisions by transgender girls. “We’re seeing these policies and the necessity of moving beyond a very narrow definition of understanding of a policy like Title IX,” Rose said. “Some people are working to use Title IX to restrict and confine, and that’s out of step with the intention of the policy.”

The New York Times concludes that the law’s passage is a moment to celebrate, especially as women’s rights have become more restricted in light of the reversal of Roe v. Wade. However, Title IX still falls short in providing full equity as race and disabilities are not included in Title IX’s language.

Click here to read the full report.

Along with leading Polis, Professor Rose is an Associate Professor at the Sanford School, Co-director of the North Carolina Scholars Strategy Network, and author of Citizens by Degree: Higher Education Policy and the Changing Gender Dynamics of American Citizenship.

Professor Goss on Gun Control Political Mobilization, Routledge Studies and SSQ

Professor Kristin Goss

Kristin Goss is a Kevin D. Gorter Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University and an expert on gender, guns, and giving. Her research has been cited heavily in the media in the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting and President Joe Biden’s push for “common-sense” gun regulation.

“State legislation seldom makes headlines, but it’s terribly important because, in the American system, states have primary responsibility for gun regulation,” she said to VOA News.

On WRAL, she asserts that "Most people don’t have a very good grasp of what our gun laws are. To be fair to Americans, gun laws are complicated and vary greatly state by state."

Professor Goss's research on the political mobilization of pro-gun rights groups and gun control activists has been quoted in Vox. In Routledge Studies in Crime and Society and Social Science Quarterly she finds that pro-gun rights citizens are more engaged in the political process. She concludes in Routledge that “The growing accommodation to guns in public life poses considerable challenges to the gun violence prevention movement, even as its resource base and grassroots organization expand and even as it enjoys policy victories that were rare even a few years ago.”

Check out these articles:
Fact Check: Do 90% of Americans Support Background Checks?, WRAL
Biden Implores Congress to Approve New ‘Common-Sense’ Gun Restrictions, VOA News
Mass Shootings Typically Lead to Looser Gun Laws, Not Stronger Ones, Vox

Violet Wang on NC’s Justice System, INDY Week

Former Director’s Fellow Violet Wang (PPS ’24) was published in INDY Week concerning North Carolina’s broken justice system and the importance of implementing a civil citation and diversion program.

“Our current system drives previously incarcerated people to resort to crime again, creating a cycle of incarceration that is both costly to taxpayers and detrimental to the livelihood of offenders.”

"A “cite and divert” program allows police officers to issue a civil citation for petty, nonviolent offenses instead of jail and arrest. Currently, six counties—Durham, Wake, Orange, Cumberland, New Hanover, and Buncombe—implement a pre-arrest diversion option for youth. This option creates a compromise between verbal warning and criminal punishment." - Violet Wang

Click here to read the full article