The Media Briefing Series

Between August 2020 and January 2021, Duke political science faculty engaged journalists on the most pressing issues of the election cycle.  This collection of videos brings them together alongside Duke faculty from other parts of campus. 

“The right to vote requires a reasonable but not unlimited set of options. Citizens don’t have the right to violate the rights of others. Citizens don’t have the right to elect whomever they want. We typically have a limited set of choices. We don’t have the right to elect a child or a foreigner to the presidency, for example. So our rights to participate in a democracy aren’t set back if we can’t elect people who have worked to undermine the electoral process. People don’t have the right to seek office. They have a right not to be excluded. People who have used their power to undermine the electoral office, which I think it’s quite clear the president has, have demonstrated they won’t exercise power well." - Alexander Kirshner

 “For the last six months there’s been a lot of speculation. Would President Trump be unwilling to step down if he lost the election, and would he use his powers as commander in chief to try to create some kind of chaos that would allow him to stay in power? The military has been crystal clear in messaging in the last six months: There is no role for the military in the peaceful transfer of political power. They don’t have a role in it under the Constitution.” - Peter Feaver

“The delay in transition is not helpful. The good news is the Biden team is the A Team. They have a lot of governing experience among them. If there was going to be an incoming team that could overcome this problem well, I would say that’s the Biden team. Compromise is not an abdication with the enemy. Compromise with the other political party is not evil. That requirement – compromise is built in, that’s what our founding documents required was compromise. In the last four years we’ve seen that become so sharply attacked by both sides but especially by the Trump administration” - Peter Feaver

“Younger Black folks aren’t as tied to the Democratic Party as their parents. The Democratic Party needs to make the case as to why the Democratic Party should be their party of choice. With Latinx voters – they’re up for grabs. On some of the social issues they’re more conservative than mainstream Democrats. But the (Republican) party has done a remarkable job pushing those voters away with some of their stances on immigration and other kinds of issues. I think it’s becoming clearer, the divide. There’s a definite trend of the rural areas of North Carolina becoming less important because of population changes. Those areas are becoming less populous. The folks who are there are becoming older, whiter, Republican voters by and large. The power is moving to the suburban parts of North Carolina. The Charlotte suburbs, the Raleigh/Durham suburbs, the Triad to some extent. This divide is becoming clearer and seems to be a Democratic Party advantage at the moment given who’s moving to these locations." - Kerry Haynie

“When we talk about racism or we think about what the term ‘racism’ means, we usually conceive of it as a sense of antipathy or hostility or outward prejudice many Americans have towards people of color in the United States and, of course, towards Black Americans in particular. There are a number of white Americans who don’t necessarily have this sense of racial hostility but nevertheless feel their group is somehow losing out. It’s losing its privileges and statuses. That’s where we see these conversations about white grievance politics.” - Ashley Jardina

“One of the consequences of registering as unaffiliated with either of the two major parties is that the major get-out-the-vote campaigns have become partisan-based. They tend to focus on turning out their base. So if you’re unaffiliated you’ll have less of that impetus to increase your turnout. So that induces another level of uncertainty in this. It makes it more possible for the attraction of an individual candidate to make a larger difference for people who are unaffiliated with the parties.” - John Aldrich

“By every metric you can look at, we are more polarized than we were in the mid-20th century. But partly it’s a matter of where we look. When we look at the politicians and the parties, the extent of polarization is massive and clear. But when we look at peoples’ beliefs in the issues, there is much less polarization than is often characterized. The public as a whole still has some issue preferences that there is considerable common ground. So it’s one of the things that is so important for us to remember in talking about polarization … why is it that our political system isn’t adequately representing the views of the American public where there is common agreement? To me that tends to be one of the biggest questions we are overlooking when we are focusing on our differences.” - Sunshine Hillygus