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.

All Research & Media Hits

Congressman David Price on his life and career in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Washington Post

This January, Polis welcomed Congressman David Price back to Duke’s campus as a Polis Distinguished Fellow. He had previously served as the representative for NC’s 4th district for 30 years. The Washington Post recently wrote an article to commemorate Price’s years as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Price spoke on the knowledge he obtained while serving in office and advice he would give to other representatives. “Don’t hesitate to be full-throated advocates for what you believe in. … At the same time, understand that not every battle can be won on the first try and that politics is a matter of striking a balance between … compromising and finding common ground where you can, and fighting where you must.” Continue reading

Professor Mac McCorkle on the political landscape in 2023, Carolina’s Own QC News

Sanford Professor Mac McCorkle was quoted in Carolina's Own Queen City News on the North Carolina governor's race and the new faces representing NC at the federal level. The next two years could further change the political landscape drastically with the next presidential election and North Carolina’s next gubernatorial race. According to the article, McCorkle is expecting a titanic battle between Robinson and Stein, likely nominees for the 2023 NC governor's race. "Here, you're gonna have more of what I think will be viewed as a more purely progressive race, Josh Stein, even though he is not too left, and Mark Robinson, who's full out almost from the Jesse Helms tradition," McCorkle said. He also gave his professional opinion on Senator-Elect Ted Budd's transition into office, which he thinks may be tough. "Given how chaotic things are now with the Trump legacy, he's going to have some trouble in the Senate figuring out if he's going to be a Trump flamethrower as that flame may be fading." Continue reading

Professor Kristin Goss

Professor Goss on Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, The Washington Post

Sanford Professor Kristin Goss was quoted in the Washington Post on gun reform and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization advocating for stricture gun laws founded by Shannon Watts. Approximately 140 volunteers of the organization were elected to office this past midterm election. Professor Goss, citing the work and successes of Watt’s organization, says “Nothing drives me crazier than when people say 20 [children] were killed and nothing changed. That is not true.” She argues that although Congress did not pass any sweeping gun legislation, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have been a pivotal force in the movement. Still, Watt’s is hoping for more change. When Congress did little after Sandy Hook, she realized she needed gun-sense candidates to run for office. Goss states that the organization “knew a real key to success would not just be policy change, but a change in personnel; you needed to change who was making the decision about gun policy.” Continue reading

Etan Zeller Maclean (PPS ‘24): “Death in the Hands of Chance: Why Judges Cannot be Trusted to Sentence Death”

One study by two Louisiana State University professors titled “Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles” exposes an almost laughable, yet dark reality of the American justice system. It looks at the correlation between the performance of judges’ favorite football teams and the harshness of their sentencing. Sure enough, they found that when a judges preferred football team lost, inmates were behind bars for longer. Oh and, surprise, they also handed harsher sentences to black defendants. My point, though, is to underline the variability of human decision regarding the death penalty. Proponents of capital punishment support taking murderers off the streets and handing just punishment to the most heinous criminals. I am not writing to oppose this. In a perfect world, this would be attainable. But this is not a perfect world, and humans are far from perfect. Instead, I believe the death penalty should be eliminated because of the inevitable fallibility of those who hand it down. Continue reading

Professor Carnes, The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

December 23rd is the release date for Sanford Professor Nick Carnes and co-author Carrol University Professor Lilly J. Goren’s book, The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They argue that the MCU is “a deeply political universe,” touching on all realms of government, public policy, and society. 25 leading scholars help explore various modern day political issues including civil-military relations, racial injustice, environmental catastrophe, political misinformation, and themes of diversity and representation. This is the first book to take a deep dive into the political messages within the MCU and ask the question, “What lessons are this entertainment juggernaut teaching audiences about politics, society, power, gender, and inequality?” Continue reading