Experts on the Presidential Primaries: Researchers Offer Range of Perspectives, from the Political to Psychological

The Jan. 3 Iowa Caucus marks the formal start of the selection of delegates for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The caucus serves as an early indication of which candidates may secure the nomination from their political party. Thirty-three states will hold presidential primaries or caucuses by Feb. 5.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are available to provide commentary on how issues such as party polarization, gender, race and faith are shaping the 2008 presidential election.

National Politics and the Presidency

Bruce Buchanan
Professor, Department of Government

Buchanan specializes in presidential and American politics, American institutions, public policy and political behavior. His books include "The Presidential Experience," "The Citizen's Presidency," "Electing A President" and "Presidential Campaign Quality."

Campaigns and Political Behavior

Daron Shaw
Associate Professor, Department of Government

Shaw serves on the editorial board for American Politics Research and on the national decision team for Fox News. He was a strategist during the 2000 and 2004 presidential election campaigns.

Children's Views of the Presidency

Rebecca Bigler
Professor, Department of Psychology; Director, Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab

Bigler researches gender and racial attitudes and the formation of stereotypes. She has examined children's views of the U.S. Presidency related to race, gender and ethnicity. She can discuss the potential for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to break the pattern of white males serving in the presidency.

Gender and the Presidency

Gretchen Ritter
Professor, Department of Government; Director, Center for Women's and Gender Studies

Ritter studies the role of gender in American politics, constitutional development and the impact of work-family issues on gender equity. She is the author of "The Constitution as Social Design: Gender and Civic Membership in the American Constitutional Order."

Politics of Faith

Christopher Ellison
Professor, Department of Sociology

Ellison directs the Center for the Scientific Study of Religion. He studies how religion and religious institutions affect political behavior. He is the author of the forthcoming study "God's Party? Religion, Race/Ethnicity, and Partisanship Over Time."

Congress and Party Polarization

Sean Theriault
Assistant Professor, Department of Government
512-232-7279 and 832-721-3991

Theriault researches party polarization in the U.S. Congress and the differences between elected officials' goals, ideas and attitudes and those of their constituencies. He examines the ethical considerations presented when the viewpoints of constituents and their representatives don't connect. He is the author of "The Power of the People: Congressional Competition, Public Attention, and Voter Retribution."

Political Language and Psychological Insights

James Pennebaker
Chair, Department of Psychology

Pennebaker has analyzed language in political speech to evaluate a candidate's psychological state. The researchers found the words used in interviews provide insight into how a candidate thinks and relates to people. They have examined the language and personalities of George Bush, John Kerry, Dick Cheney and John Edwards.

Politics and Personality

Sam Gosling
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Gosling studies how people create environments that provide insights into their personalities and how they would like to be perceived. For example, Gosling and his colleagues at New York University and Harvard University have found differences between how liberals and conservatives decorate their offices or bedrooms.

The Hispanic Vote

Jason Casellas
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

Casellas examines Latino politics, including representation in Congress, and legislative, state and local politics.

David Leal
Associate Professor, Department of Government

Leal specializes in Latino politics, particularly public opinion and political behavior, state and local politics, and the U.S. Congress. He is the co-editor of "Latino Politics: Identity, Mobilization, and Representation" and the author of "Electing America's Governors: The Politics of Executive Elections."

African American Issues

Eric McDaniel
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

McDaniel's research areas include religion and politics, African-American politics and organizational behavior. His work targets how and why African-American religious institutions choose to become involved in political matters. In addition, his work targets the role of religious institutions in shaping African-American political behavior.

Tasha Philpot
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

Philpot specializes in African-American politics, public opinion and political behavior, political communication and political parties. Her research examines the consequences of using racial images in political communication. She is the author of "Inclusion or Illusion? The Politics and Process of Party Image Change."

Texas Politics

Jim Henson
Director, Texas Politics project

Henson directs the Texas Politics project and researches Texas and U.S. politics, and the political impact of the Internet.