News

David Rohde, a political scientist now in his 50th year of teaching the subject, taught “Congress and President” from the time he arrived at Duke in 2005 until 2015. “I teach about American Politics from a theoretical point of view, so that approach is resilient enough to deal with the myriad variations we have encountered over my career,” Rohde says. “In particular, I recognize that political actors have a wide range of motives and perceptions that shape their choices. Trump is, however, certainly the most unusual actor I… read more about Teaching Trump-Era Politics in the Classroom - interviews with David Rohde and Michelle Whyman »

"The War on the Rocks podcast is back with a big episode and an all-star cast. Hal Brands and Alex Bick of SAIS, Will Inboden of the Clements Center at the University of Texas, Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution, Colin Kahl of Georgetown, and Peter Feaver of Duke dish about the U..S. National Security Strategy, a report required by Congress meant to basically lay out how the president views America’s role in the world and how he plans to exercise power." read more about So, Does The National Security Strategy Matter? Podcast with Peter Feaver »

The central rhetorical strategy of Professor MacLean’s book is the insinuation that Buchanan (and others working in the public choice tradition) were motivated by racial animus, and a desire to maintain the dominant position of a privileged, white, male elite. According to MacLean, this led them to develop a particular approach to thinking about politics, and to advocate for institutional and constitutional rules that, according to Professor MacLean, institutionalize (among other ills) racist practices. Buchanan’s letters… read more about Democracy in Chains and Buchanan on school integration - Georg Vanberg writes for The Volokh Conspiracy »

“Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout” $326,233 from Political Science Program, National Science Foundation, Sunshine Hillygus PI, John Holbein Co-PI, Matthew Lenard Co-PI Voter turnout among young people is dismally low in the United States—often 20-30 percentage points lower than that of older Americans. This project evaluates potential education and electoral policies to increase youth turnout.  Bridging research in political science, education, and human development, we contend that increasing… read more about Sunshine Hillygus awarded two large National Science Foundation grants »

Scott de Marchi, who teaches political science at Duke University, says his research suggests approval ratings tend to affect whether a president can persuade Congress to do his or her bidding. That's primarily true with complex issues like tax reform, where Americans care about the outcome but may not have strongly formed opinions. In those cases, Americans are more likely to support whatever plan the president proposes if they broadly approve of the president himself. "The problem with Trump is that on any area like the… read more about Trump setting records for low presidential approval - Scott de Marchi interviewed for CNBC  »

"It's true that the President doesn't have to have his order 'Ok'd' by another person.  That there's not a two-man rule at the very top.  The President alone makes the decision.  But the President alone cannot carry out the decision.  There's ample opportunity for the rest of the system to put pressure, change the President's mind under a scenario of, say, preventive war." - Peter Feaver   read more about When can POTUS authorize a nuclear attack? Peter Feaver answers on PBS NewsHour »

Trump’s reaction may have energized some of his key supporters, but the whites marching on Charlottesville were only a small segment of a much larger population for whom the politics of white identity resonates. The vast majority of white Americans who feel threatened by the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity are not members of the KKK or neo-Nazis. They are much greater in number, and far more mainstream, than the white supremacists who protested in Virginia over the weekend. Continue reading here  read more about White identity politics - Ashley Jardina writes for Monkey Cage »

Dr. Kerry L. Haynie, director of Duke University's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender, struck a note of caution in removing the Confederate monuments.  "I am fearful as an educator that we will forget the past," Haynie noted. "You often see now in textbooks and various places almost a denial of a slavery past or a racist past. One of the purposes those monuments serve is to remind us of that past." He is concerned that those important lessons may take time to sink in. "My theory is it will get worse before… read more about Kerry Haynie discusses Charlottesville turmoil on NPR and WJLA »

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who served as a senior adviser on the national security council for strategic planning under Bush, says these international doubts won't make it impossible for foreign leaders to back Trump if they support his strategy -- as demonstrated by the unanimous recent United Nations vote tightening economic sanctions on North Korea. But these widespread reservations, he adds, will make other leaders more cautious about supporting his initiatives. "It means you are carrying a few… read more about Would a public that doesn't approve of Trump follow him into war? - Peter Feaver on CNN »

David Rohde, a professor of political science at Duke University, said the most plausible explanation of Trump’s decision to take on McConnell this week is an effort to play directly to his base. “For all the talk about fake polls, Trump and his collaborators must realize that their political support is deteriorating and that the possibility of a real political catastrophe 15 months from now is increasing,” he said in an email message. Rohde went on to say this tactic by Trump might be the best of a bad set of options. “If… read more about Trump's baffling attacks on McConnell - David Rohde interviewed for The New York Times »

Mr. Feaver said the explosive statement put Mr. Trump on a “risky path” because of its potential to inflame Mr. Kim, but was in keeping with his penchant for upending the established protocols of diplomacy in efforts to bring about a better outcome. “They may be saying, ‘Look, we have a 30-year record of bipartisan failure on this issue, so let’s flip the script and give North Korea a bit of its own medicine and see if we can get a different result,’” Mr. Feaver said. Continue reading here  And see more of David Parkins'… read more about Trump’s Harsh Language on North Korea Has Little Precedent - Peter Feaver interviewed for The New York Times »

Buchanan was emphatically committed to democracy if by democracy we understand the right of individuals to choose the political order under which they must live. If democracy is defined as a commitment to unfettered majority rule, then he was certainly not a democrat. But few, if any people are democrats by that definition, since that would imply that majorities should prevail no matter what they decide to do, including trampling on the interests of vulnerable minorities — which is precisely why Buchanan believed that we… read more about Was James Buchanan opposed to democracy? Not at all - Georg Vanberg writes for WaPo's Monkey Cage »

I don’t know. This may compromise my ability to convince you that we need less of it. Doubtless many other contributors will spell out clearly what theory is, why it’s become so rare/distorted/atrophied/glorious in recent times, and tell you why we need more of it. Whatever it is. Along with others I will find these treasured insights upon reading the other articles. Maybe you have already read those articles and are now convinced that theory is such a good thing that we need more and better theory. If so, you may not… read more about Do We Have Too Much Theory in International Relations or Do We Need Less? - Michael Ward writes for Oxford Research Encyclopedias »

As Duke University political science professor Michael Munger argues in his speech “Tomorrow 3.0,” people are earning tidy livings by reducing transaction costs. Uber doesn’t make anything. Airbnb doesn’t make anything. Lyft doesn’t make anything. These companies create value by facilitating transactions that previously would have been too costly without them. Continue reading here   read more about How capitalists can create value by reducing waste - Michael Munger and Tomorrow 3.0 »

Mr. Trump urged uniformed sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford to call their members of Congress to lobby for his military spending plan and his proposed repeal of Mr. Obama’s health care program. Traditionally, the commander in chief does not tell the troops who serve under him to involve themselves in politics or policy battles on his behalf. His comment to the sailors appeared to be ad-libbed, but still troubled security experts. “It was a mistake for the president to make this comment,” said Peter D.… read more about Trump White House Tests a Nation's Capacity for Outrage - Peter Feaver interviewed for the NYTimes »

American politics appears broken. The Republican Party, which is in control of Congress and the presidency, is internally fractured and incapable of advancing a coherent policy agenda. Moderation and compromise, especially across party lines, are political minefields few politicians dare cross. The budget process has become a game of chicken and Washington is unable to address pressing public issues. The current healthcare fiasco is Exhibit A: Held hostage by the fringe of their party, Republican leaders are unable to… read more about A simple fix to encourage bipartisanship in the House - Georg Vanberg writes for The Hill »

Duke historian Nancy MacLean’s recent book “Democracy in Chains” has garnered considerably attention. In separate reviews, Professors Michael Munger and Georg Vanberg respond to Professor MacLean’s controversial thesis, and offer a different perspective on Nobel-prize winning economist James Buchanan and public choice theory. read more about Georg Vanberg and Michael Munger respond to 'Democracy in Chains' »

Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, recently served both as interviewer and expert on panels for the Aspen Ideas Festival.  "The Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation's premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times. Some 350 presenters, 200 sessions, and 3,000 attendees comprise the annual Festival, launched in 2005… read more about Peter Feaver serves on big think panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival »

Kyle Beardsley's recent book Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping (Oxford), has just been awarded the Book of the Year Prize by the Conflict Research Society.  "The Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize honours research that is contemporary, exceptional, and world leading, and which provides an invaluable contribution to the literature on conflict and peace studies, very broadly defined.  It is an annual prize selected from nominations made by leading authorities around the world in the areas of conflict and/… read more about Duke Political Scientist, Kyle Beardsley, wins 'Book of the Year Prize' »

Another vocal critic of Mr. Erdogan’s government is Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and political science at Duke University. "I’m spending twice as much time on Twitter writing messages than I normally would because I feel that I have an obligation to do this as someone who is free," he said. The scholars in Turkey who have gone quiet are watching what he’s saying on Twitter, Mr. Kuran said. "It gives them a sense that someone in the world is paying attention and informing the rest of the world about the tragedies… read more about Turkish scholars face decision whether to objecting to Erdogan's politics - Timur Kuran interviewed for The Chronicle of Higher Education »

Approximately 476 students have attended the Ralph Bunch Summer Institute (RBSI) since it’s inception and 56 of those RBSI scholars have earned doctoral degrees.  After Duke University's Dr. Paula McClain became Director in 1996, RBSI has produced 48 participants who completed their Ph.D in political science and 8 more who completed doctoral programs in cognate social science fields.  There are 36 former RBSI participants who are in academic jobs or postdoctoral fellowships.  Click here to view portraits of the RBSI… read more about Ralph Bunche Summer Institute 2017 underway at Duke University »

Matthew McCubbins, won this year's Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Political Science's Section on Political Organizations and Parties.  The Samuel Eldersveld Career Achievement Award recognizes a scholar whose lifetime professional work has made an outstanding contribution to the field. Dr. McCubbins will be presented with the award at the annual meeting in San Francisco later this summer.  Watch Dr. McCubbin's students give their class presentation on the Syrian refugee crisis. read more about Duke Political Science emeritus Matthew McCubbins wins Lifetime Achievement Award »

We were sad to learn of the passing of Samuel DuBois Cook, professor of political science at Duke from 1966 to 1975. We express our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.   "After a short stint in the U.S. Army in 1955, Cook taught political science at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Then, in 1956, he moved to Atlanta University and became politically active working on black voter registration with the local NAACP chapter. As chair of the school's political science department in the early 1960s,… read more about Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, in memoriam »

Today the United States faces a vastly different situation in the region. U.S. troop levels are a small fraction of their Iraq War peak, and chaos and civil war have spread throughout the region. It’s also possible that military officers, chastened by the losses in Iraq, will take a more cautious view. “The conventional wisdom on this is probably wrong,” said Peter Feaver, a senior official in George W. Bush’s White House and professor at Duke University. “Empirically, the military is more reluctant to use force . . . but… read more about Military's clout at White House could shift U.S. foreign policy - Peter Feaver interviewed for The Washington Post »

Jay Bilas, ESPN Analyst and lawyer, delivered an address to Duke University Department of Political Science senior undergrads, graduate program students, and faculty on May 14, 2017.  He discussed three themes: everyone knows something you don't know, find people that will be honest with you, and don't take 'special' for granted.  Jay received our Distinguished Alumni Award. read more about Jay Bilas, ESPN Analyst speaks at Duke Political Science Graduation »

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) first began operating aid in Somalia back in 1977. Today, one of our Duke political science undergraduates, Rajiv Golla, is reporting from Nairobi on the ICRC Conference for Reuters about the current state of malnutrition and the consequences of the recent drought in Somalia. Rains in Somalia have brought relief from drought but malnutrition remains a threat, the International Red Cross said on Friday, with the number of children admitted to its feeding centres nationwide… read more about Duke Political Science student, Rajiv Golla, reports today for Reuters  »

This conference brings together a diverse group of international scholars to address various ways analytical models of politics can be broadened to include “behavioral” concepts, both within and beyond the standard rational choice, game theoretic paradigm. Research presented here features a mix of theoretical, experimental, and other empirical approaches from political science, economics, and related disciplines. Empirical research might test or challenge conventional modeling assumptions, identify the boundaries between… read more about Duke Political Science hosts Behavioral Models of Politics Conference »

Our thesis in our work on economist jokes is that there are really three factors: whether the joke is funny, or insightful, or makes fun of economists. If the unexpected alteration in point of view is too great, seems strained, or violates the internal logic of the joke itself, then we may say, “That’s not funny.” This may mean that the joke is not intended to be funny — though the teller finds it so — because the object is not humor, but rather mockery. And even mockery can be funny if the joke is also insightful.… read more about Economist Jokes: A Typology - Michael Munger writes for Learn Liberty »

As a social entrepreneur and activist, James Ferencsik is committed to tackling major social problems including waterborne disease and youth representation in politics. In 2013, James was awarded the Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarship, an undergraduate merit award, to attend Duke. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding students who show promise of being intellectual leaders. During his time at Duke, James spent two years running the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council, which lobbied Congress and the White House to… read more about James Ferencsik, graduating political science student, profiled on Duke Today »