Category Archives: Political Science

Could a poll boost ECU’s national reputation?

The next presidential election may be two years away, but East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research has its focus set on Nov. 3, 2020.

•Peter Francia is the new director of ECU’s Center for Survey Research.

Peter Francia is the new director of ECU’s Center for Survey Research. (Contributed photo)

By then, Director Peter Francia hopes to have established a university polling center capable of accurately predicting the voting margins.

If successful, the university could join other polling powerhouses like Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University and Marist College, who regularly find themselves in the national spotlight come campaign season – an otherwise rare occurrence.

“They have a national reputation because of the polling they do. Why not ECU?” Francia said.

Becoming well-known for political polling extends beyond simple name recognition. The president of Monmouth University has estimated the value of free media exposure to be close to $1 billion. When John Lahey started Quinnipiac’s poll in the late ’80s, the school was a small commuter college with fewer than 2,000 students. A coordinated effort to build a polling facility helped turn it into a nationally known university with more than 10,000 students today.

“If you were to follow our admissions and our growth, you could follow the poll,” Lahey told Politico last year.

ECU plans to set up its poll beginning with a call center that will be built with the help of a $100,000 donation from alumni Wayne and Sherry Holloman. The Hollomans have annually supported a political science scholarship, Honors College student programming and the Voyages of Discovery lecture series.

Wayne and Sherry Holloman donated $100,000 to the Center for Survey Research to establish an ECU polling center.

Wayne and Sherry Holloman donated $100,000 to the Center for Survey Research to establish an ECU polling center. (Contributed photos)

“Imagine learning the results of the election and hearing people say, ‘ECU was dead on it,’” Wayne Holloman said. “It could be big.”

Housed in the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Survey Research currently assists the university as well as private clients and public agencies in public opinion and community assessment research. That includes survey design, questionnaire development, data collection and focus group research.

“We’ve seen across the country that university-based opinion polls can capture the pulse of the electorate and catapult their institutions to prominence,” said Dr. William Downs, Dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “Wayne and Sherry Holloman are great friends of ECU and of the Arts and Sciences, and their generous investment in our Center for Survey Research will ensure that Pirate polling has a successful launch and an impactful future.”

Francia, who is also a political science professor, said a polling center makes sense at ECU because North Carolina is an exciting state to be in politically.

“On the presidential map, North Carolina is not a red state or a blue state. It is a purple state. There is also a history of very competitive statewide contests for governor and for the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Moreover, partisan control of the U.S. Senate could potentially hinge on a single seat in 2020. If so, North Carolina’s U.S. Senate election will have national implications.”

The ECU Poll will involve students by giving them opportunities to work in the call center, develop questionnaires and conduct data analysis. Francia said he hopes the polling center can be worked into the political science curriculum so more students can learn how polling and random sampling works.

In addition to political polling, the university would be capable of polling on other topics that affect the area, like opioid use and immigrant labor.

“Expanding services and missions is important,” Holloman said. “That’s what this is. Making ECU a part of the community, the state and the nation.”


-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Politics and kids: Explaining a contentious election

The 2016 election season has come to a close, but the polarized attitudes surrounding the campaigns may still continue to impact our children. The amount of negative campaigning, especially in swing states like North Carolina, has been difficult to conceal from our youngest citizens, according to two child development experts at East Carolina University.

Amanda Blakley works with students at the Nancy Darden Child Development Center on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Amanda Blakley works with students at the Nancy Darden Child Development Center on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“Children in elementary schools were talking about the candidates and what they have heard on television or from parents. I’ve had to answer questions from my own school-age children about topics they discussed in school,” said Dr. Sheresa Blanchard, assistant professor of human development and family science at ECU.

Blanchard and her colleague, Melissa Nolan, director of the Nancy Darden Child Development Center at ECU, offers tips for discussing the outcome of the election with children.

Display good sportsmanship

Whether your candidate wins or loses, it’s an opportunity for adults to display good sportsmanship. Children mirror the emotions and attitudes of their parents, and the emotions this election year have run high.

“Remain calm. It’s a fact that children respond to how we react and will feed into it. If parents are frustrated, angry or happy about the outcome, it’s OK to identify those feelings and calmly put them into words,” said Blanchard.


Choose your words carefully

Try to remain as neutral as possible when talking about the outcome of the election.

“Children do not have the cognitive ability to rationalize exaggerated comments. If they overhear an adult say, ‘the world will end’ if their candidate loses, children believe the world will end,” said Blanchard.

These kinds of statements can lead to fear and uncertainty. Nolan encourages parents to reassure their children that they are still safe and will be taken care of no matter the outcome.

Be honest 

Blanchard and Nolan agree that it’s OK to be honest with your children and share what you are feeling. Give them the space and the opportunity to share their emotions too and ask questions. Ask them how they feel about what they’ve seen and heard.

“Don’t give children more information than what they want,” said Nolan. She suggests encouraging children to ask questions and for adults to stick with short honest answers.

“Adults tend to give too much information,” she added.


Recognize teachable moments

Use opportunities that arise to teach and model, tolerance.

“Parents can explain that even though they may not agree with the person in office, we should still respect them and find a way to move on,” said Nolan.

Blanchard said parents can try to find optimism in the situation.


Jessica Pate, Collier Taylor, Finley Charles, and Marai Blanchard play at ECU's Darden Center.

Jessica Pate, Collier Taylor, Finley Charles, and Marai Blanchard play at ECU’s Darden Center.

Meet our experts:

Dr. Sheresa Blanchard is an assistant professor of human development and family science at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Her research interests include early childhood education, parenting and family-centered practices.

Melissa Nolan, M.S. is the director of East Carolina University’s Nancy Darden Child Development Center, part of the Department of Human Development and Family Science. Her expertise includes best practices in early childhood education and child care administration.

*Note to editors and reporters: If you’re interested in speaking to one of these two experts, contact ECU News Services at 252-328-6481. 


-by Jamie Smith

Professor’s forecast model predicts election results

East Carolina University political science professor Dr. Brad Lockerbie has developed an election forecast model that has correctly predicted the outcome of each presidential election since 1996.



Lockerbie said he got interested in election outcome forecasting after attending a panel on the 1994 midterm election and seeing the forecasts fail to predict the massive swing in congressional seats picked up by the Republican party.

There are many factors that can be considered when developing a forecast model, including poll results, popularity ratings and economic conditions.

“Mine is a very simple model that says there are two major factors,” Lockerbie said. “The first is that the longer a party has been in the White House, the harder it is to retain it. The second is people’s economic expectations; if you think your outlook stinks, you’re not likely to vote for the same party.”

The forecast model has been accurate in predicting the national popular vote in each presidential election, he said. It does not take into account the Electoral College.

“The closest to being inaccurate was 2000,” Lockerbie said. “Even then the prediction was right on the popular vote,” but the Electoral College result was different.

This year, Lockerbie’s model predicts a very narrow (50.4 percent of the two-party vote) presidential win for the Democratic candidate and zero seat change in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would result in a continuation of divided government at the national level.

Lockerbie’s forecast model will be published in “PS: Political Science and Politics,” a publication of the American Political Science Association. It will also be included in Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a compilation of election forecasts published online by the University of Virginia at

–Jules Norwood

German diplomat to speak on transatlantic relationships

German diplomat Knut Abraham will present “The Transatlantic Link in Times of Crisis” at 4 p.m. Feb. 12 in room 130 of the Rawl building, East Carolina University.

Knut Abraham

     Knut Abraham

Abraham, head of the consular and legal section of the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., will speak about key issues affecting transatlantic relationships. He will focus on issues that affect the relationship between United States and Germany, such as terrorism, Russia/Ukraine and U.S. espionage against Germany.

He is a German lawyer and career diplomat who has served German embassies in the U.S., Bulgaria and Finland. He has also served the German Foreign Office and the Federal Chancellery in Berlin.

Sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the event is free and open to the public. ECU students and faculty interested in current German – U.S. relations are encouraged to attend.

For questions contact Armin Krishnan, Department of Political Science, at

ECU grad shares deception detection techniques on CBS Morning News


The hosts of CBS This Morning interview Phil Houston on the recent release of Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception.


ECU political science graduate and former Central Intelligence Agency expert Philip Houston, co-author of “Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception,” appeared on the CBS morning news show Jan. 18. Houston spoke on methods to detect deception and how to elicit more truthful answers.

Houston, of Greenville, is chief executive officer of Qverity, a provider of behavioral analysis and screening services for a worldwide clientele. According to Qverity’s web site, Houston is a national expert on deception detection, critical interviewing and elicitation who is credited with developing a deception detection method that is now used throughout U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities.  Read more about Houston at




ECU to host Great Decisions community forum

East Carolina University will host the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Program Jan. 14 through March 3.

The program will run for eight consecutive Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Rivers West Building auditorium. The schedule of meetings, topics and speakers is as follows:

  • Jan. 14: Cybersecurity
    Retired USAF Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, and visiting professor of the practice, Duke University School of Law.
  • Jan. 21:  Indonesia
    Dr. Alethia Cook, Department of Political Science, East Carolina University
  • Jan. 28: State of the oceans
    Dr. David Kimmel, Department of Biology, East Carolina University
  • Feb. 4:  Energy geopolitics
    Dr. Richard Ericson, Department of Economics, East Carolina University
  • Feb. 11: Promoting democracy
    Dr. Dursun Peksen, Department of Political Science, East Carolina University
  • Feb. 18: Mexico
    Dr. Angela Thompson, Department of History, East Carolina University
  • Feb. 25: Exit from Afghanistan & Iraq
    Dr. Austin Long, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • March 3: Middle East realignment
    Nathan Lean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Now in its eighth year in Greenville, the Great Decisions Program is sponsored by ECU and the World Affairs Council of Eastern North Carolina. ECU students, staff and faculty may attend for free and purchase the program book for $19. For the general public, the fee is $37 for all eight sessions with a $19 textbook expense. Individual sessions are $6.

For additional information, visit the Great Decisions web site or contact Dr. Sylvie Debevec Henning at (252) 328-5520 or at Registration is available on the web site.

Terrorism conference set for April 2012 at ECU

East Carolina University will host an international Conference on Terrorism April 19-20, 2012. A call for papers has been issued, with a deadline of Dec. 30. Read the Call for Conference Proposals.

This will be the fourth in a series of conferences on morality and terrorism. The organizing committee invites scholars of psychology, political science, security studies, philosophy, theology and all other relevant disciplines to participate.


Workshop to focus on open government, public information

A fall workshop on Public Records and Open Meetings will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at 221 Mendenhall Student Center, East Carolina University. Registration opens at 1:30 p.m.

The workshop is sponsored by ECU’s Department of Political Science and the Sunshine Center at Elon University.

Presentations will focus on the importance of making public information available to the public. Topics include research on the impact of open government, how the media and government work together to share public information with citizens and the role of the Sunshine Center in fostering open government in North Carolina.

Speakers include Dr. Carmine Scavo, ECU Department of Political Science; Dr. Brooke Barnett, executive director of the Sunshine Center; Dr. Ed Johnson, Department of Communications, Campbell University; and Charles Twardy, ECU School of Communication.

A panel discussion on open government and public records will include Brian Colligan, editorial page editor at the Greenville Daily Reflector; Steve Hawley, public information officer with the city of Greenville; and Dr. Peter Romary, director of Student Legal Services at ECU.

Additional information about the speakers is as follows:

  • Carmine Scavo is an associate professor of political science. He has taught at ECU for 26 years and directed the master of public administration program for 10 years. He co-directs the ECU Outreach Network and the N.C. Talent Enhancement Program, which work with small local governments and non-profits in eastern North Carolina. He and Charles Prysby of UNC-Greensboro won the 2006 Rowman-Littlefield Award for Innovative Teaching of the American Political Science Association.
  • Brooke Barnett is executive director of the Sunshine Center at Elon University where she is also an associate professor of communications, an administrative fellow and special assistant to the university president. Before her career in academics, Barnett worked for the Public Broadcasting System for five years where she produced several award-winning documentary films.
  • Brian Colligan has been the editorial page editor of the Greenville Daily Reflector since 2004. He holds an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech and a master of public administration from ECU.  Colligan’s work has been recognized with the N.C. Press Association’s 2001 and 2006 Best Editorial Writing award and the 2010 Editorial Page award.
  • Steve Hawley is communications manager and public information officer for the city of Greenville where his work has won Excellence in Communications Awards from North Carolina City and County Communicators. He hosts the city of Greenville’s public access television show “City Scene” and was a WITN-TV on-air personality.
  • Ed Johnson is associate professor of communication studies at Campbell University in Buies Creek. In 2005 he was named Professor of the Year by the Ad Club of the Triangle. He taught advertising and public relations in Missouri and Nebraska before his time at Campbell University.
  • Peter Romary is director of student legal services at ECU. He holds a law degree of UNC-Chapel Hill as well as a British law degree. Originally a British subject, he now holds U.S. citizenship. In 2004, he was the recipient of a knighthood in recognition of his work combating violence against women and in the same year received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
  • Charles Twardy is an instructor in the School of Communication at ECU. He holds a master of science in journalism and a master of arts in English from Northwestern University. His published work has appeared in newspapers such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The State (Columbia, SC), Orlando Sentinel, Raleigh News and Observer as well as journals such as World Architecture, Architectural Record, and German Life.

Register ahead by sending an e-mail titled “Workshop Registration” to Please include your full name, mailing address, phone number and affiliation (name of business, organization, government agency, university, etc.). On-site registration will be accommodated as space allows. By registering ahead, you ensure your reservation and that you will receive updates about the event, including parking and other important details.


For additional information about the workshop, contact Carmine Scavo at 252-737-2335 or



Conradt book examines politics in Europe

David P. Conradt

A new book co-authored by David P. Conradt (Political Science), “Politics in Europe, Fifth Edition” was published by Congressional Quarterly Press in Washington, D.C. According to Dietmar Herz, chair for comparative government at the University of Erfurt in Germany, the new edition “provides a brilliant and highly readable analysis of Europe’s major powers.”