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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Conference: Election 2016

in Historical and Comparative Perspective

2016 Election


Friday, October 21, 2016
9:15 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is closed.
Co-sponsored by the History and Political Science Departments at Boston College


watch the event

about the conference

The 2016 Presidential campaign promises to be the most exciting and perhaps the most significant in recent history. The major parties disagree more than they have since the 1930s. Divisions within the two parties are also greater than scholars and commentators, and politicians, can remember. Both Republicans and Democrats have experienced insurgencies that have explicitly aimed to topple party “establishments,” and the insurgent candidate actually won the Republican nomination. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is likely to be more bitter and nasty than Americans have experienced in their lifetimes. And, most important, the consequences of the vote on November 8th could be enormous. A Clinton victory would in theory be a vote for continuity, but in a fragile and volatile world change is inevitable, while a triumph for Trump would be a huge shock and would portend major shifts in domestic policy and in America’s role in the world. Neither party will be the same after the 2016 election, and significant rethinkings and realignments could be in the offing.


conference schedule

Friday, October 21, 2016


9:15 a.m. Welcome

9:30 a.m.


Session I: Parties and the Electorate: Structures and Strategies

  • Chair: Kay Schlozman, Political Science, Boston College
  • Alan Abramowitz, Political Science, Emory University
  • David Daley, author of Ratf**ked
  • Dave Hopkins, Political Science, Boston College

11:15 a.m.


Session II: Trump, Clinton, and What They Tell Us about America

  • Chair: Kenneth Kersch, Political Science, Boston College
  • Ellen Fitzpatrick, History, University of New Hampshire
  • Arthur Goldhammer, Center for European Studies at Harvard
  • Heather Richardson, History, Boston College

12:45 p.m.


Lunch followed by Keynote Address by Paul Pierson, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

  • Chair: David Hopkins

2:00 p.m.

Session III: Issues, Interests, and Voters

  • Chair: Martin Summers, History and African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College
  • Shana Gadarian, Maxwell School, Syracuse University
  • Jill Greenlee, Politics, Brandeis University
  • James O’Toole, History, Boston College
  • Emily Thorson, Political Science, Boston College

3:30 p.m.


Session IV: Consequences, Domestic and International

  • Chair: Alan Rogers, History, Boston College
  • Jim Cronin, History, Boston College
  • Alex Keyssar, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Shep Melnick, Political Science, Boston College
  • Robert Murphy, Economics, Boston College

5:00 p.m.


Keynote Address by Bruce Bartlett, author and policymaker 
  • Chair: Heather Richardson


6:00 p.m. Reception

about the speakers


Alan Abramowitz

Alan Abramowitz is a popular expert on national politics, polling and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate.

His election forecast has correctly and precisely predicted the popular vote winner within two percentage points or less in every U.S. presidential election since 1988.

Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University, is the author or coauthor of five books, including "Voice of the People: Elections and Voting Behavior in the United States."


Alan Rogers is Professor of History at Boston College. He is the author of Murder and the Death Penalty in Massachusetts (2008);"State Constitutionalism and the Death Penalty," Journal of Policy History (2008); "The Death Penalty and Reversible Error in Massachusetts," Pierce Law Review (2008); and Boston: City on a Hill (2007).

Alexander Keyssar

Alexander Keyssar is the Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy. An historian by training, he has specialized in the explanation of issues that have contemporary policy implications. His book, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2000), was named the best book in U.S. history by both the American Historical Association and the Historical Society; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. A significantly revised and updated edition of The Right to Vote was published in 2009. His 1986 book, Out of Work: The First Century of Unemployment in Massachusetts, was awarded three scholarly prizes. Keyssar is coauthor of The Way of the Ship: America's Maritime History Reenvisioned, 1600-2000 (2008), and of Inventing America (2003, 2nd ed. 2006), a text integrating the history of technology and science into the mainstream of American history. In 2004/5, Keyssar chaired the Social Science Research Council's National Research Commission on Voting and Elections, and writes frequently for the popular press about American politics and history. Keyssar's is currently completing a book entitled Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? to be published by Harvard University Press.

Arthur Goldhammer

Arthur Goldhammer—Center for European Studies, Harvard, author and translator—has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from MIT and has taught at Brandeis University and Boston University. He has translated more than 125 books from French, for which he won numerous awards. His most recent award was for Thomas Piketty's bestseller Capital in the 21st Century. Goldhammer is also Co-Chair of the Contemporary Europe Study Group and Chair of the Visiting Scholars Seminar at Harvard's Center for European Studies.

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett has spent many years in government, including service on the staffs of Representatives Ron Paul and Jack Kemp, and Senator Roger Jepsen. He has been executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, and deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department during the George H.W. Bush administration.

Mr. Bartlett is also a columnist for The Fiscal Times, an online newspaper covering public and personal finance, and Tax Notes, a weekly magazine for tax practitioners and policy makers. He was previously a columnist for Forbes magazine and Creators Syndicate. His writing often focuses on the intersection between politics and economics and seeks to inform politicians about economics, and economists about the current nature of politics. 

He is the author of the New York Times best-seller Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (2006) and The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward (2009). His latest book, The Benefit and the Burden (2012), is a history and review of issues related to tax reform.

Dave Hopkins

David A. Hopkins joined the Boston College political science department in 2010. His research and teaching interests include American political parties and elections, the U.S. Congress, voting behavior, public opinion, and research methods.

David is the co-author of the recently published Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats (with Matt Grossman), and previously co-authored Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics (with Nelson W. Polsby, Aaron Wildavsky, and Steven E. Schier, Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). His recent articles include “The 2008 Election and the Political Geography of the New Democratic Majority” (Polity, July 2009); “The Empirical Implications of Electoral College Reform” (with Darshan J. Goux, American Politics Research, November 2008), and “The Political Geography of Party Resurgence” (with Laura Stoker, in Who Gets Represented?, Peter K. Enns and Christopher Wlezien, eds., Russell Sage Foundation, 2011).

His current research includes a project investigating the causes and consequences of increasing geographic polarization in American elections.

David Daley

David Daley is the author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy (W.W. Norton/Liveright) and the former editor-in-chief of He is the digital media fellow at the Wilson Center for the Humanities and the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. He is currently the publisher and CEO of the Connecticut News Project. He earned his B.A. in political science at Boston College and his M.A. in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Ellen Fitzpatrick, a professor and scholar specializing in modern American political and intellectual history, is the author and editor of eight books, most recently The Highest Glass Ceiling (2016). Her book, New York Times bestseller Letters to Jackie became the basis of a highly regarded documentary film by Bill Couturie entitled Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy. Fitzpatrick served as Associate Producer. She has been interviewed as an expert on modern American political history by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, CBS’s Face the Nation, National Public Radio and has appeared on the PBS News Hour.

Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, where she has been recognized for Excellence in Public Service, Fitzpatrick lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

Emily Thorson

Emily Thorson joined the Boston College political science department in 2015. Before that, she was an assistant professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. She received a dual Ph.D in communications and political science at the Annenberg School and at the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her research focuses on information effects in politics, both on the aggregate and individual level. Specifically, she traces how political information and misinformation reaches citizens (through traditional and new forms of media as well as through informal interactions) and the conditions under which this information affects their attitudes and behavior.

Prof. Thorson's recent publications include “Belief Echoes: The Persistent Effects of Corrected Misinformation,” forthcoming in Political Communication; and “Beyond Opinion Leaders: How Attempts to Persuade Foster Awareness and Campaign Learning,” in Communication Research, February 2014.

Heather Richardson

Professor Heather Richardson teaches nineteenth-century American history at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Her early work focused on the transformation of political ideology from the Civil War to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. It examined issues of race, economics, westward expansion, and the construction of the concept of an American middle class. Her history of the Republican Party, To Make Men Free (2014) examines the fundamental tensions in American politics from the time of the Northwest Ordinance to the present. She is currently working on an intellectual history of American politics and a graphic treatment of the Reconstruction Era.

James Cronin

Professor James Cronin teaches modern British and European history. Over the past decade his research interests have involved the relationship between states and social structures, political parties, and the rise and fall of the Cold War world order. He is is author of Global Rules: America, Britain and a Disordered World, published in 2014. Cronin's 2004 book, New Labour's Pasts, focused on the making of "New Labour" in Britain and its implications for the evolution of social democracy in Europe. He is currently working on a study of British and American foreign policy, and the Anglo-American alliance, since the crisis of the 1970s. Professor Cronin is an associate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, where he chairs the British Study Group, and he serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Social History and British Politics. He has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the German Marshall Fund and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

James O'Toole

Professor James O’Toole teaches courses in the history of American religion and the history of American Catholicism. His interests lie in the history of religious practice and popular devotional life. He has published a general history of the American Catholic laity from Colonial times to the present, and he is also studying the history of the practice of confession in America. He is currently writing a new history of Boston College.

Jill Greenlee

Jill Greenlee's current scholarship investigates the relationships between major life cycle events, such as becoming a parent, and the political attitudes and behaviors of ordinary citizens. More broadly, she is interested in how individuals change politically as they move through the life course. Her book, The Political Consequences of Motherhood (2014, University of Michigan Press) investigates the complex relationship between motherhood and female political attitudes. It combines a historical overview of how motherhood has been used in the American political landscape over time with individual-level analysis exploring how and when motherhood shapes the thoughts and preferences of women.

In addition to research on gender, Greenlee has investigated questions related to racial attitudes and generational change. She is currently working on a co-authored book with Professor Tatishe Nteta of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, that investigates the nature of racial attitudes among white Americans who came of age during the Obama presidency. 

Greenlee has published work in journals such as Political Psychology, Politics and Gender, and P.S. Political Science and Politics. She teaches courses in American Politics, Women and Politics, Political Behavior, and Research Methods.


Kay Schlozman is the J. Joseph Moakley Professor of Political Science at Boston College and the recipient of the 2016 Career Achievement Lifetime Award from the by the section on Political Organizations and Parties of the American Political Science Association. Schlozman is the co-author of the The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy (2012), The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation (2001) and Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics (1995).


Kenneth Kersch is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Kersch is the recipient of the American Political Science Association's Edward S. Corwin Award (2000), the J. David Greenstone Prize (2006) from APSA's politics and history section, and the Hughes-Gossett Award from the Supreme Court Historical Society (2006). He is the author of The Supreme Court and American Political Development (2006)(with Ronald Kahn), and Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law (2004).


Martin Summers is Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College.  He is the author of “Arguing for Our Race”: The Politics of Non-recognition and the Public Nature of the Black Masonic Archive,” in Steven Kantrowitz and Peter Hinks, eds., “All Men Are Free and Are Brethren”: Prince Hall Fraternalism and the Rise of a People (2013); "'Suitable Care for the African When Afflicted With Insanity': Race, Madness, and Social Order in Comparative Perspective," in Bulletin of the History of Medicine 84 (Spring 2010): 58-91; and Manliness and Its Discontents: The Black Middle Class and the Transformation of Masculinity, 1900-1930 (UNC Press, 2004), which received the 2005 American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award.

Paul Pierson

Paul Pierson is the John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Pierson’s teaching and research includes the fields of American politics and public policy, comparative political economy, and social theory. His most recent book is Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Simon and Schuster 2010), also co-authored by Jacob Hacker. Pierson is an active commentator on public affairs, whose writings have recently appeared in such outlets as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. Pierson is also the author of Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment (Cambridge 1994), which won the American Political Science Association's 1995 prize for the best book on American national politics. His article "Increasing returns, path dependence, and the study of politics" won the APSA’s prize for the best article in the American Political Science Review in 2000, as well as the Aaron Wildavsky Prize for its enduring contribution to the field of public policy, awarded by the Public Policy Section of the APSA in 2011. He has served on the editorial boards ofThe American Political Science Review, Perspectives  on Politics, and The Annual Review of Political Science. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Chair of the Berkeley political science department.

Shep Melnick

R. Shep Melnick is the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics. He teaches a variety of courses on American politics, including Courts and Public Policy, Ideas and Institutions in American Politics, Bureaucracy, Democracy in America, Rights in Conflict, and the American politics graduate field seminar.

Melnick's research and writing focuses on the intersection of law and politics. His first book,Regulation and the Courts, examined judicial influence on the development of environmental policy. His second, Between the Lines, investigated the ways in which statutory interpretation has shaped a variety of entitlement programs. His current research project looks at how the Rehnquist Court is reshaping our governing institutions.

Melnick is co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government and a past president of the New England Political Science department. Before coming to Boston College 1997 he had taught at Harvard and at Brandeis, where he served as chair of the Politics department.

Robert Murphy

Professor Robert Murphy joined the Economics faculty of Boston College in 1984. He is Director of the International Studies Program and currently teaches courses on international economics, economic growth, and macroeconomic theory and policy. Professor Murphy’s research focuses on macroeconomics and international finance. He has been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and served as a senior economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton and Reagan Administrations. He is a member of the International Studies Academic Board.

Shana Gadarian

Shana Gadarian is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.  Prior to her appointment at the Maxwell School, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California-Berkeley. Her primary research interests are in American politics, political psychology,political communication, and experimental methods.

Her book with Bethany Albertson, University of Texas, Anxious Politics: Democratic Citizenship in a Threatening World, published from Cambridge University Press, explores how anxiety over policy issues like immigration, public health, terrorism, and climate change affect how Americans seek political information, their trust in government, and public opinion. In a new project, she is working with a cross-national group of scholars from Norway, Finland, and Spain exploring the effects of terrorism on social capital, societal resilience, and public opinion across four countries. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Norwegian Research Council, Campbell Public Affairs Institute, Princeton Policy Research Institute for the Region, and the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice.

Thank you for your interest in the event. Registration closed on October 17. Visit our events page to learn about upcoming events.