PoliSci professors to teach with election results

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
Midterms brought in droves of voters, with long lines forming outside of polling places. Utah political science professors from various universities across the state say they plan to use the Nov. 6 midterm election results to teach their students in the upcoming months. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Political science professors from BYU, UVU and the University of Utah said they plan to use the Nov. 6 midterm results in their teaching and research for upcoming semesters.

Before the election, several political science professors held discussions with their students regarding the ballot initiatives voted on, such as medical marijuana and the Medicaid expansion, both of which were passed in Utah.

“It was really kind of a serendipitous alignment between the classroom, my research interests and what was happening in the broader part of Utah,” said University of Utah professor Phillip Singer. Singer’s areas of expertise include health policy, politics and Medicaid.   

BYU professor Adam Dynes said he will start spending more time in his introductory courses explaining what led to the results and how they fit with various campaign and voter behavior theories.

“The elections won’t change how I teach, but what I teach as I try to be relevant to current events and apply political science to those current events,” Dynes said.

UVU professor Steven Sylvester said he wants to focus more on discussing the influence candidates can have on elections individually, since candidates mattered greatly in this election.

The midterm elections bring new content into the discussion, UVU professor Jay DeSart said.

Now that the results for the 2018 midterms are in, DeSart said he plans to compare the numbers and outcome with past elections. DeSart said he prepared his students with discussions about previous elections and how midterms work before voting even began.

The midterm elections opened up research opportunities for both professors and students, according to Singer. He said he plans to focus on the Medicaid expansion, not only in Utah but also other states where it passed, like Idaho and Nebraska.

Sylvester said he is also looking into the upcoming Medicaid expansion, specifically at the different groups involved in passing the legislation.

Regarding student research, Singer said the election posed potential research questions, such as the role ballot initiatives, like medical marijuana, played in voter turnout.

“My goal is really to try to bring the real world into the classroom and then bring the classroom into the real world,” Singer said. “It’s not every year that we’ll have an election, so when those opportunities present themselves, I think it’s really valuable to take advantage of it and to be able to bring those things together.”

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