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.

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Professor Kristin Goss on Gun Ownership, Indy Week

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

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Professor Frank Bruni & Mac McCorkle on the 2024 NC Governor Race, The New York Times

Sanford Professor Mac McCorkle was quoted in The New York Times on the 2024 North Carolina governor's race. NC Attorney General Josh Stein is the likeliest Democratic nominee, and Lieutenant Mark Robinson is the likeliest Republican nominee. According to the article, McCorkle said North Carolinians elected their share of firebrands like Robinson to Congress before Continue reading

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Professor Ken Rogerson on TikTok’s Threat to Government Security, WUNC

Two state lawmakers are asking Governor Roy Cooper to consider prohibiting state employees from downloading TikTok on government issued devices. This is part of a larger movement based on political concerns that the Chinese-owned company could pose a threat to national security by sharing user data with China's government. Congress passed a ban on TikTok on federal employees' work devices last month as a provision in the larger spending bill to keep federal agencies funded. Some states have followed suit with similar proposals to ban TikTok downloads on state employees’ work phones, computers and tablets. Continue reading

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Mae Mae Wallace (PPS ‘24): “Banning Race-Related Discussion in K-12 Education Perpetuates Polarization and Threatens American Democracy”

Bills banning discussion of “divisive topics” in K-12 classrooms are putting the future of our democracy at risk. In the past two years, 9 states have passed legislation, and even more are in the process of passing bills that ban discussion of topics such as inherent racism, conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression based on the context of race. These topics are being banned due to administrations and parents’ inability to agree upon curricula. However, prohibiting youth to discuss their opinions on such issues will only perpetuate the pattern of polarization. Continue reading

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Aashna Shah (PPS ‘24): “The School Nurse Shortage”

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