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Charles Figley avatar

Charles Figley

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Dr. Paul Henry Kurzweg Distinguished Chair and Professor of Disaster Mental Health and Professor of Social Work
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Tulane University
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Shea Rhodes, JD

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Director, Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation | Charles Widger School of Law
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Villanova University
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David Banach

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Associate Professor of Medicine Head of Infection Prevention Hospital Epidemiologist
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University of Connecticut
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Christopher A. Cooper

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Madison Distinguished Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs and Director of the Haire Institute for Public Policy
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Western Carolina University
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MEDIA RELEASE: CAA Manitoba Survey Reveals Troubling Lack of Travel Insurance Preparedness

A recent member survey conducted by CAA Manitoba has unveiled concerning statistics regarding the lack of travel insurance awareness and preparedness. Despite the financial risks associated with travelling unprotected, the survey found that 38 per cent of members in Manitoba who travel don’t always purchase emergency medical travel insurance, highlighting a potential vulnerability. "In a world of uncertainties, our survey highlights a critical gap in travel preparedness among Manitobans," says Susan Postma, regional manager, CAA Manitoba. "At CAA, we believe in empowering travellers with knowledge so they can explore confidently and securely." The survey also discovered that almost a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) ventured on their last trip outside the province without any form of travel insurance, exposing themselves to potential financial burdens in case of emergencies. CAA Manitoba is launching its inaugural CAA Travel Wise Week In response to these findings, CAA Manitoba is launching its inaugural CAA Travel Wise Week to emphasize the crucial importance of travel insurance education. The campaign aims to inform and educate Manitobans on the risks of inadequate coverage and provide valuable insights into securing appropriate protection for their travel adventures. According to claims data from Orion Travel Insurance, the average cost of a medical claim has increased by 14 per cent since 2019. “Costs associated with everything from an ear infection to the use of an air ambulance have risen over the last few years due to medical inflation, underscoring the continued importance of travel insurance for life’s unexpected complications,” says Postma. As part of the CAA Travel Wise Week, CAA Manitoba has curated a list of the top ten tips to help individuals stay protected against common travel concerns: Top 10 Tips for Travel Protection: Make sure all your documentation is in order before you book. It is recommended passport renewals be completed six months before your planned trip. Your passport should still be valid six months after your travel date, as this is required in several countries. Read up on Government of Canada travel advisories for your destination. Understand the risk level associated with travel to a particular destination by checking the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories website. Individual travel advisories remain on a country-by-country basis. Speak with your physician to discuss your travel plans. Speak to your physician to ensure you are up to date with needed travel vaccines and have them prescribe enough medication for the length of your trip. Ensure all the medication you take is packed in your carry-on and in its original bottles with labels intact. Consider purchasing travel insurance at the time of booking your trip. To lock in the best protection, book your travel insurance at the same time you book your trip. Doing so will give you the peace of mind that both you and your investment are protected. Insurance must be in place before things go wrong for you to benefit from coverage. Know the cancellation policies for everything you booked. Make sure you understand any key dates related to cancellation and changes, this includes accommodation, flights, car rentals, tours, cruises. Get to the airport early. CAA recommends arriving at the airport at least two hours before domestic flight departures and at least three for international flights. Check limits or restrictions. Travel insurance is often touted as a perk for certain credit cards but can be drastically limited to both benefits and the sum insured. Check limits or age restrictions on credit cards, employee benefits, and pensions to determine if you need additional travel insurance coverage. Stay connected. It is important to have access to trusted, up-to-date information while travelling so you can monitor changing conditions and requirements and adapt accordingly. Bookmark the Global Affairs Canada website prior to departure and check it regularly while abroad. It is also a good idea to sign up for Registration of Canadians Abroad. Find these and more information at www.caamanitoba.com/travel Note emergency contact numbers. Provide your travel agent with contact details while travelling abroad and keep all important phone numbers handy; this includes how to call for help and your travel insurance assistance phone number. Protect your ID. Make sure you have a digital version and paper version of your travel insurance wallet card, tickets to various events and attractions and even your passport. You may also want to leave a copy of important paperwork with family members or friends. For more information, visit www.caamanitoba.com/travelwise The survey was an online quantitative survey done with the CAA Members Matter Panel in Manitoba between September 22 - 29, 2023. The margin of error for a sample of this size is plus or minus 4.0% at the 95% confidence level.

Susan Postma
4 min. read

MEDIA RELEASE: CAA Survey Reveals Troubling Lack of Travel Insurance Preparedness

A recent member survey conducted by CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) has unveiled concerning statistics regarding the lack of travel insurance awareness and preparedness. Despite the financial risks associated with travelling unprotected, the survey found that 40 per cent of members in Ontario who travel don’t always purchase emergency medical travel insurance, highlighting a potential vulnerability. "In a world of uncertainties, our survey highlights a critical gap in travel preparedness among Ontarians," says Kaitlynn Furse, director of corporate communications at CAA SCO. "At CAA, we believe in empowering travellers with knowledge so they can explore confidently and securely." The survey also discovered that almost a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) ventured on their last trip outside the province without any form of travel insurance, exposing themselves to potential financial burdens in case of emergencies. Additionally, 33 per cent of people who travel with travel insurance relied on the coverage provided by their credit cards, raising concerns about coverage limitations, especially for those over 65. CAA SCO is launching its inaugural CAA Travel Wise Week In response to these findings, CAA SCO is launching its inaugural CAA Travel Wise Week to emphasize the crucial importance of travel insurance education. The campaign aims to inform and educate Ontarians on the risks associated with inadequate coverage and provide valuable insights into securing appropriate protection for their travel adventures. According to claims data from Orion Travel Insurance, the average cost of a medical claim has increased by 14 per cent since 2019. “Costs associated with everything from an ear infection to the use of an air ambulance have risen over the last few years due to medical inflation, underscoring the continued importance of travel insurance for life’s unexpected complications,” says Furse. As part of CAA Travel Wise Week, CAA SCO has curated a list of the top ten tips to help individuals stay protected against common travel concerns: Top 10 Tips for Travel Protection: Make sure all your documentation is in order before you book. It is recommended passport renewals be completed six months before your planned trip. Your passport should still be valid six months after your travel date, as this is required in several countries. Read up on Government of Canada travel advisories for your destination. Understand the risk level associated with travel to a particular destination by checking the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories website. Individual travel advisories remain on a country-by-country basis. Speak with your physician to discuss your travel plans. Speak to your physician to ensure you are up to date with needed travel vaccines and have them prescribe enough medication for the length of your trip. Ensure all the medication you take is packed in your carry-on and in its original bottles with labels intact. Consider purchasing travel insurance at the time of booking your trip. To lock in the best protection, book your travel insurance at the same time you book your trip. Doing so will give you the peace of mind that both you and your investment are protected. Insurance must be in place before things go wrong for you to benefit from coverage. Know the cancellation policies for everything you booked. Make sure you understand any key dates related to cancellation and changes, this includes accommodation, flights, car rentals, tours, cruises. Get to the airport early. CAA recommends arriving at the airport at least two hours before domestic flight departures and at least three for international flights. Check limits or restrictions. Travel insurance is often touted as a perk for certain credit cards but can be drastically limited to both benefits and the sum insured. Check limits or age restrictions on credit cards, employee benefits, and pensions to determine if you need additional travel insurance coverage. Stay connected. It is important to have access to trusted, up-to-date information while travelling so you can monitor changing conditions and requirements and adapt accordingly. Bookmark the Global Affairs Canada website prior to departure and check it regularly while abroad. It is also a good idea to sign up for Registration of Canadians Abroad. Find these and more information at www.caasco.com/travel. Note emergency contact numbers. Provide your travel agent with contact details while travelling abroad and keep all important phone numbers handy; this includes how to call for help and your travel insurance assistance phone number. Protect your ID. Make sure you have a digital version and paper version of your travel insurance wallet card, tickets to various events and attractions and even your passport. You may also want to leave a copy of important paperwork with family members or friends. For more information, visit www.caasco.com/travelwise The survey was an online quantitative survey done with the CAA Members Matter Panel in Ontario between September 22 - 29, 2023. The margin of error for a sample of this size is plus or minus 1.6% at the 95% confidence level.

Kaitlynn Furse
4 min. read
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MSU Law expert weighs in on Roe v. Wade draft opinion/leak

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University Law Professor Mae Kuykendall answers questions about what it means if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the leaked draft opinion. She recently co-authored an essay, Uprooting Roe, that was published in the Houston Law Review. What will it mean if Roe v Wade is overturned? The implication for American politics and for women is seismic. We are in uncharted territory. The Supreme Court is now deeply radical and reactionary, in the basic sense of that term. It’s (Roe v Wade’s) legitimacy is at risk, and that is putting it mildly. What are the short- and long-term impacts?  Again, this is uncharted territory. States have passed abortion bans with no exception for rape or incest. Childbirth has a mortality rate associated with it and, if done in a hospital, is extremely expensive. This is a form of what is called in other contexts an “unfunded mandate.” It also has a significantly worse impact on Black women, who die in childbirth at a disproportionate rate. The moment the Supreme Court issues its holding (with its “mandate”), draconian state laws will come into effect. Women will die. One does not yet know what women will do to organize and make access to reproductive health care available. Numerous recent articles have been written about ongoing secret meetings by Republicans in the U.S. Congress to pass a national ban if they gain sufficient control of Congress and the executive branch. The efforts by some states to become “safe havens for reproductive health care” are targets. The assumption that women can travel to liberal states is not something to count on. Further, there will be efforts to criminalize leaving a state for an abortion and returning. We are entering a new era in which all assumptions about women’s status as full citizens, and other assumptions about liberty of all to travel and to associate freely, are up for grabs. The Texas bounty law is a glimpse of a future with heavily restricted rights for pregnant women and their support network. What document was leaked?  The document is a draft opinion by Justice Alito in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization The odds are he is negotiating with other justices who voted with him about specific language. The opinion is quite radical as his starting point, but I do not know who in the radical Republican majority will want to soften it. Does this assure that Roe v Wade will be overturned?  It has been clear since the Republican Party began putting justices on the Supreme Court pursuant to an “overrule Roe” litmus test that Roe v Wade was going to be overruled. With the three they gained by refusing to give hearings to Merrick Garland and then rushing Amy Coney Barrett through at the last minute, the end was assured. How could such a document be leaked from SCOTUS?  The draft opinion would be in general circulation within the Supreme Court. The possibilities are numerous. I assume someone wanted Alito and friends to see the reaction before the deed was final. What is the cornerstone of Roe v Wade? A basic response would be the concept of individual rights and the requirement that state power not intrude deeply into an individual’s life without a strong “compelling” interest. Raw state power is disapproved by most of the American people.  The Supreme Court, on all sides of the spectrum from liberal to conservative, long cited the need to restrain the raw exercise of individual state power. The Roe v Wade case was the first time state laws to ban abortion faced a test of fit with the core idea of liberty under the Constitution. The Supreme Court, with an open mind, studied the matter and found such bans unsustainable within a framework of protection for individuals from an unjustified exercise of raw state power. Without Roe v Wade, abortion bans would be subject to what is called “rational basis” review. That means anything a person could imagine as a rational reason for a law means the law passes Court review. What’s next? The Supreme Court is involved in internal back and forth about the opinion. When justices decide they like the opinion as it is written, they write the author: “Join me.” The chief justice of the United States just issued a statement that the opinion is not final. That is obvious. But Alito is trying to gather support for the most confrontational, radical opinion he can write. We shall see. After the opinion is announced, and even now, we face massive unpredictable political turbulence.  When will the final decision on Roe v Wade be made?  By the end of Supreme Court term for this year.   https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/procedures.aspx For media inquiries:  Contact: Kim Ward, University Communications: (517) 432-0117, kward@msu.edu;

Mae Kuykendall
4 min. read

Acute Care Nursing Goes Virtual

At ChristianaCare, our patients are our number one priority. That perspective keeps us thinking about new ways to deliver care, including those that allow our caregivers to put their knowledge, skills and focus to the best use. Video: ChristianaCare Virtual Acute Care Nursing Virtual acute care nursing is one way we are making sure our caregivers are working at the highest levels to care for our patients in our hospitals. What is virtual nursing? This program allows experienced nurses to practice virtually in another location. Nurses working virtually help nurses at the bedside by documenting health information, such as medication histories; providing patient education; monitoring patient lab work; completing patient admission documentation; and helping with discharge planning and care coordination. Podcast: Virtual Nursing in the Hospital with Michelle Collins and Melanie Ries By working virtually, these nurses help remove some of the documentation burden for our clinical staff while also improving our patient outcomes. For example, a virtual acute care nurse can take the time to explain to a patient what their at-home care plan will look like, when to take their medications or even understand more about their condition. That allows our bedside nurses to keep their focus on the immediate needs of their patients. How does virtual nursing work? If a patient has a question about their medicine or wants to know more about their impending discharge, they can use a computer tablet that’s placed next to their bed to contact their virtual nurse, who will answer the call. Patients want to feel that someone is available to talk with them, and that’s exactly what our virtual nurse program provides. While our bedside nurses work on a unit caring for multiple patients, our virtual nurses care for one patient at a time without distraction. How is ChristianaCare using virtual nursing? We are currently using a virtual nursing care delivery model in more than 500 of our acute care beds – that’s about 41% of all the beds we have in Wilmington and Christiana hospitals. Nearly 19,000 patients have received this kind of innovative care at ChristianaCare. Our patients and nurses have been involved in over 53,000 calls, spending between seven and nine minutes each time they talk. Why does this matter? It’s no secret that nurses have been overburdened with high patient volumes and labor shortages that have affected the entire health care industry. Given this, it’s imperative to think of new models to support our caregivers, ease their workload and make sure we are providing expert care. Improvements in patient care – along with our patient experience scores – show us the value of the program. Virtual nursing allows us to do that. There also are other advantages to virtual nursing. It can be an option for skilled nurses who aren’t able to handle the physical demands of the job since the interaction with patients is through a tablet. Virtual nursing also offers an opportunity to help early-career nurses learn from experienced caregivers. A virtual nurse can provide mentoring to the bedside nurse by acting as an extra set of eyes and ears to help assess a patient or talk through a challenge. This approach can also help retain more of our early-career nurses, which is good news for all of us. We see virtual nursing as another tool to help our caregivers serve with love and excellence. And let’s be honest — we all want good care to be as easy as pushing a button. Thanks to virtual nursing, it is.

Michelle L. Collins, DNP, APRN, CNS, ACNS-BC, NPD-BC, NEA-BC, LSSBB
3 min. read

Leap Years and the Connection Between Astronomy and Our Lives

Most of us know February 29 as a whimsical anomaly – nothing more than a chance to tease our friends or colleagues born on this day as technically being a quarter of their purported age. But how often do we think about the origins of the day as we now know it? Or about the near-universal implementation of this specific way to keep track of time? Do we ever consider the impact a leap year could have on everyday life? Frank Maloney, PhD, associate professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University, has been teaching for nearly 12 leap years (47 years). He is an expert in timekeeping and calendar, calling them a “fundamental connection to our lives, ruled by the motion of objects in the sky,” because “everyone has to agree what day and time it is.” Dr. Maloney currently teaches a course called Earth: Our Habitable World, where he discusses this and other connections between astronomy and people’s lives. In the case of leap years, the astronomical phenomenon from which they originate – the Earth’s time to orbit the sun— is a very important one to accurately track. “You want your calendar to keep pace with the seasons,” Dr. Maloney explained. “There are all sorts of ways of measuring the pace of the Earth around the sun, but the way that [also] keeps pace with seasons is called the tropical year, and unfortunately, there’s not an integer number of days in that year. We can't ignore it, because after the first year you’re off by a quarter of a day and after four years off by a full day, and so on.” Ancient civilizations were aware there were slightly more than 365 days in a solar year but didn’t know exactly how much more. Gradually, the seasons would become unsynchronized with the calendar and those various civilizations added days back in at random times to realign. “In those days, it might be possible to leave one area in April, and arrive [somewhere else] the previous December,” Dr. Maloney joked. The concept of a leap year began with the Roman empire’s implementation of Julius Caesar’s namesake calendar on January 1, 45 B.C.E., at his behest. The Julian calendar was a solar calendar, which consisted of a 365-day year, and a 366-day leap year every four years, without exception. It was often added as a duplicate day in the middle of February. “But a year is not exactly 365 and a quarter days, it’s a little bit less,” Dr. Maloney explained. “By the Middle Ages, it was 10 or so days out of whack with the tropical year. Astronomers would have seen that very easily... but the reason to change it was not there.” Not until the late 16th century, that is. And the reason it did change was because Easter had moved out of line with the vernal equinox. “Nearly all calendars have a mystical, religious or theological component,” Dr. Maloney said. “In the Roman Church, Easter is reckoned as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox, or first day of spring.” In order to have Easter fall back in line with the equinox, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull in 1582, which declared a year to be a more accurate 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes in length (roughly). What that meant for leap years was that instead of every four years without exception, they would now occur every four years except on century marks, unless that century mark was divisible by 400. For example, 1900 was not a leap year, but 2000 was. The years 2100, 2200 and 2300 will not be leap years. The global switch to a new calendar was not easy or done in haste. To enact the initial calendar change, 1582 went from October 4 to October 15 to eliminate extra accumulated days. Catholic countries mostly followed suit soon after, but many others resisted, as citizens feared it was a political trick. It took centuries to get to the near-universal use of the Gregorian calendar we use today. Great Britain and other Commonwealth nations did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. An individual such as George Washington could have been considered to be born on one day in the Julian calendar and have a different birthday in the Gregorian calendar. In the American colonies, September 1752 skipped to the 14th day of the month from the second. The most recent country to switch from the Julian to Gregorian calendar was Greece in 1923. By then, the calendar was roughly two weeks off from the tropical year. In the early 1900s, when globalization was commencing, this was a big deal. “You could get in an airplane and fly someplace, and not even know what day you’d be landing. According to the calendar, it’d be time travel,” Dr. Maloney said. Saudi Arabia still used a few elements of the Islamic calendar for fiscal purposes until 2016, and Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal and Ethiopia are the only countries in the world that do not officially use the Gregorian calendar currently. So, what does all this mean for people today? For starters, historians and genealogists must be careful when studying historical dates and events. For example, a country may have still been using the Julian calendar during a particular time period, or perhaps an event might have occurred during the time days were skipped to make the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars. “If an infant were born [in the American colonies] on the second of September 1752, for example, and died on the 14th, they were not really 12 days old,” Dr. Maloney said. “Or if a war began in a country one day but started on a different day in a different country, it causes confusion.” Leap years and other adjustments to timekeeping can also cause a plethora of computing and software issues, impacting multiple industries. This is especially true in the digital age where time-stamping is so ubiquitous. Case in point, on occasion, we actually have to add a leap second to time to account for the slowing of Earth’s rotation. These leap seconds are added after 11:59:59 on either December 31 or June 30, when needed. “There’s a great deal of controversy about this particular practice,” Dr. Maloney said. “It really confounds software. A jet airplane, for example, can travel a fairly long distance in one second. Time has to be kept now to fractions of seconds, [even for things like] lawsuits and insurance policies. Timekeeping is a very important task for astronomers.” It seems those astronomers have it figured out – for now. Even the Gregorian calendar will eventually need an adjustment, as its margin of error is about 27 seconds per year. That means every 3,236 years — so sometime in the early 4800s — an additional extra day will need to be added somewhere to correct it. Luckily, we have some time to plan ahead.

5 min. read

Ask the expert: 2024 economic outlook

Although the economy has improved since the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation has been a challenge for many Americans throughout 2023 and the economy remains a top issue ahead of the 2024 election. Experts are already making predictions about interest rates, inflation and the market for next year. Antonio Doblas Madrid is an associate professor in the Department of Economics in Michigan State University’s College of Social Science. He reflects on the economy this past year and answers questions about what you can anticipate about the economy in 2024. What are a few of the most memorable economic events of 2023? The economy in 2023 reminds me of Rocky Balboa, the boxer with a strong chin from the Rocky films who, despite getting hit over and over, keeps moving forward. A year ago, the consensus prediction among investors and professional forecasters was slower growth and higher unemployment. Inflation was still above 6%, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to one of the highest rates in 40 years, and the stock market ended 2022 in the red. Many observers said a ‘soft landing’ was a pipe dream and a recession inevitable. The year 2023 brought its own set of challenges. To name a few, a debt ceiling standoff started in January and continued until May, bringing the government dizzyingly close to default and causing a ratings downgrade. In March, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank started a crisis that, had it not been contained by a historic expansion of deposit guarantees, would have spread through the system and taken down the economy. A war broke out in Gaza. A large-scale auto workers strike temporarily shut down large parts of the sector. And the economy of China, a major trading partner, decelerated. Given all this, it is remarkable how good the numbers look right now. Inflation has steadily fallen to around 3% and is now within striking distance of the 2% target. The most recent gross domestic product, or GDP, report shows a robust 3% year-on-year growth rate, the unemployment rate remains at 3.7%, and the stock market has made a roaring comeback. The numbers look stronger than those of other major advanced economies, such as the eurozone, the United Kingdom, Japan or Canada. However, it is too early for a victory parade. The fight against inflation is not over, monetary policy has long and variable lags and, even in a strong economy, many people are struggling. But, thus far, it is hard to imagine a softer landing than 2023. What’s expected to happen with the economy in 2024? With the usual caveat that even the best predictions have a margin of error, professional forecasters see the economy still growing in 2024, albeit more slowly. The numbers hover around 1.5% for real GDP growth and 4% for the rate of unemployment. This paints a picture of moderate growth, and a labor market that, while no longer crushing records, is still within the range of what can be called full employment. What’s predicted to happen with inflation? Forecasters and market-based measures of expectations both predict that inflation is likely to continue falling gradually in 2024, to about 2.5%. Thus, the inflation shock that hit the economy is expected to continue fading, although it may take some time to go that last mile from 3% to 2%. The Fed also appears to be quite optimistic on inflation, given its latest forward guidance. What will happen with interest rates in the new year? The Fed expects inflation to fall quickly, so quickly, in fact, that it has started to reverse the hawkish policy of the last two years in its forward guidance. This means that, although the Fed has not lowered interest rates yet, it has started talking about the possibility of rate cuts — three of them — in 2024. With the economy still at full employment, this clearly means that the Fed is expecting inflation to continue to fall. How could the presidential election affect the economy? There is a popular belief that election uncertainty is detrimental to the economy, but we do not really see that in the GDP data. Growth rates in presidential election years are not lower than average. On average over the last few decades, there is a small negative effect on the stock market in election years, but it disappears in the 12 months following the election, regardless of which party is elected. What economic words of wisdom can you share for 2024? It seems to me that the perception of the economy is worse than the reality. So, I would recommend stepping away from the noise and looking at the data for some objective measures. As far as saving for retirement goes, I think mainstream financial advice is solid. So, listen to your financial advisor if you have one. If you don’t, that’s okay, it is not that hard. There are many free tools, like retirement calculators, to help you figure out how much to set aside monthly. Take advantage of employer-provided and tax incentives. Invest mostly in stocks when young, gradually switching to fixed income as you age. For equities, follow a passive strategy. Buy and hold index funds. Do not try to pick stocks or time the market. If you are at the fixed-income stage, you may want to open a high-interest CD to lock in a high rate before the Fed starts cutting rates again. Finally, set up your contributions automatically draw, stop thinking about money for a few months and invest instead in nonfinancial assets, like relationships and health. Looking to know more about the economic outlook for 2024 or do you want to connect with Antonio Doblas Madrid? To schedule an interview - simply contact Jack Harrison, Public Relations Coordinator today.

4 min. read

Ask the expert: What an earlier primary means for Michigan and the 2024 election

The 2024 presidential election is underway with the first contests being Iowa and New Hampshire. While Iowa holds caucuses, New Hampshire holds an open primary — illustrating that the way states assign their delegates isn’t always the same. For this election, Michigan’s contests are now sooner, on Feb. 27 and March 2 — with Michigan Republicans now holding both a primary and caucus. So, how does it all work? Matt Grossmann is the director of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, as well as a professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. Grossmann is an expert in both state and national politics. He answers questions about how to understand different systems and the role Michigan will play in 2024. How do the presidential primaries work for Republicans and Democrats? Officially, Democrats and Republicans select their nominees at national conventions this summer. The presidential nomination process evolved out of reforms to the delegate selection process for those conventions, which now means delegates are overwhelmingly selected based on presidential primary results. From the voter’s perspective, it often looks like any other election where you select your preferred candidate. But the parties still have power to coordinate their rules and selection procedures. That means there are still party differences, such as which states are allowed to go earlier in the process and whether the state winner gets all of the delegates from that state. Usually, the winner is determined when all other candidates drop out after it becomes infeasible for them to gain enough delegates to win. Officially, the winner needs to accumulate a majority of delegates. But the winners will likely be clear after most states vote early in the process. How does a caucus work? A caucus is a party meeting that can include the selection of delegates. The Iowa caucuses evolved out of a three-round process for selecting delegates to county conventions to select delegates to the state convention, who select delegates to the national convention. Caucuses now play a smaller role in the process, with most delegates selected by primaries. How delegates are awarded differs by state. How is a general primary different from a caucus and why does format vary by state? A primary is a normal election to select a party nominee, but the presidential primaries officially select delegates affiliated with the candidates. To organize a primary for delegate selection, a state party has to coordinate with the rules of their state and their national party. States often like to go early in the process (while several candidates are still in the race and they might influence other states), but the national parties set the rules on whether those voting early are selecting delegates to the national convention. This year, the Democratic Party approved Michigan moving earlier in the process and the Michigan Legislature (controlled by Democrats) moved our election date earlier in the process. But there is not really a contest on the Democratic side. Republicans had to adapt to this process because their national party did not approve a move earlier in the process. Why do Michigan Republicans have a hybrid caucus this election and how does it work? Michigan Republicans are trying to adapt to their national party rules and the state government-held election (coordinated by Democrats). There are also parts of the party that would like voters to have less of a role in nominating candidates compared to those more involved in party organizing and activism. The idea behind a hybrid system is to have a meaningful election where voters have a role in selecting the nominee, but official delegate selection can still conform to national rules and enable party activists to have a role in the process. What are the important dates in Michigan’s voting process? Both parties will hold their primaries on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and the Republicans will have their caucus on Saturday, March 2, which awards most of the party’s delegates. Michigan voters who want to participate must ensure they are registered for the primary by Monday, Feb. 12. Absentee ballots requested by mail must be done so by Friday, Feb. 23. It is also important to know that Michigan now has early in-person voting, which communities must start by Saturday, Feb. 17. Will Michigan’s earlier primary date have a significant effect on the presidential race? On the Democratic side, there is not much of a race against the incumbent president. But Michigan has an opportunity to set the terms for future elections, showing that it can become engaged, with diverse interests, and earn the right to vote early in the process in 2028. On the Republican side, it will depend on whether candidates other than Donald Trump remain in the process and how viable they are by the time Michiganders vote. Since Michigan does not have party registration, voters will be able to participate in the primary of their choice, which has provided an incentive for individuals to vote in the contest that presents the most uncertainty. What are some fun facts about previous presidential primaries? Barak Obama was not on the primary ballot in 2008 because Michigan jumped in line, holding a primary before national party rules allowed it on the Democratic side. Eventually, the delegates were still seated — but only after it was clear that they would not put Hillary Clinton over Obama. In 2016, Bernie Sanders unexpectedly defeated Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary, prolonging the Democratic contest, in part because many Democratic-leaning voters decided to vote in the Republican contest. John McCain won the 2000 Michigan Republican primary over George W. Bush — Michigan was one of only seven states where McCain won over Bush. Election season is here - and if you have any questions about primaries and the long road to November's election - then let us help. Matt Grossman is available to speak with media regarding this interesting and important topic - simply connect with  Jack Harrison, Public Relations Coordinator today.

5 min. read

2024 presidential and Michigan state elections: MSU experts can comment

MSU experts can discuss national political issues to the Supreme Court and constitutional issues to Michigan's state politics and races The 2024 presidential election is in full swing. As President Joe Biden is set to cruise to the Democratic nomination and former President Donald Trump is likely poised to receive the Republican nomination, 2024 is setting up to be a rematch of 2020. Michigan’s primary is now earlier on the calendar, Feb. 27, with the Republicans holding a caucus to award their remaining delegates on March 2. Despite being a presidential election year, Michigan has important statewide elections. An open U.S. Senate seat, vacated by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, could tip the balance of power in the Senate, potentially deciding which party holds the majority. Michigan’s seventh and eight congressional races have incumbents leaving office, making those set to be some of the most nationally watched and funded races nationally. The state House currently has an exact bipartisan split, setting up races with very high stakes. Michigan State University experts are available to comment on many issues of the presidential election including: political parties and their evolution, campaign strategy and polling, Trump’s legal troubles and the U.S. Supreme Court, political diversity and messaging and local elections and voting. Additionally, several of these experts can comment on Michigan’s federal and state elections. General presidential and Michigan election issues Corwin Smidt is an associate professor of American politics and research methods in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. He can comment on national elections and polling for the presidential election as well as statewide elections. Contact: smidtc@msu.edu "Michigan continues to trend toward being a battleground state, but right now it looks like a battle of attrition. Donald Trump's poll numbers really haven't improved as much since 2021 as Joe Biden's have declined, but Governor Whitmer's popularity remains high. The state Republican party continues to have fights over its management and will have a contested and possibly divisive Senate primary. Despite this, Republicans have a chance to pick up seats in the US House and state legislature because of Democratic retirements and ongoing redistricting changes." Matt Grossmann is the director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and a professor of political science. He is an expert on a broad range of topics surrounding the 2024 election, including political parties ,campaigns and elections. He also oversees survey research, candidate development and legislative training at MSU. Additionally, he can discuss Michigan’s primary and elections. Contact: grossm63@msu.edu “The presidential nomination process evolved out of reforms to the delegate selection process for those conventions, which now means delegates are overwhelmingly selected based on presidential primary results. From the voters’ perspective, it often looks like any other election where you select your preferred candidate. But the parties still have power to coordinate their rules and selection procedures. Michigan has an opportunity to set the terms for future elections, showing that it can become engaged, with diverse interests, and earn the right to vote early in the process in 2028. Since Michigan does not have party registration, voters will be able to participate in the primary of their choice, which has provided an incentive for individuals to vote in the contest that presents the most uncertainty.” Read more from Grossmann on MSUToday. Dante Chinni is a research specialist in MSU’s School of Journalism and is the director of the American Communities Project in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. He can discuss polling and changes in the parties over time, as well as the voting patterns among groups in specific places. He can also comment on various Michigan political issues. Contact: chinni@msu.edu “In Michigan, and in other states, the 2024 election will be determined by the margin of victory in different kinds of places. Can the Democrats get what they need out of the big city and college town communities, like Wayne, Ingham and Washtenaw counties? Can the Republicans get the numbers they need out of blue-collar middle suburbs, such as Macomb? The turnout and margins in those kinds of places, and others, will determine who wins in November.” Constitutional issues and the Supreme Court Jordan Cash is an assistant professor of political theory and constitutional democracy in James Madison College. He can comment on general requests about the presidency and national elections as well as issues surrounding the Supreme Court. Contact: cashjor1@msu.edu “The 2024 election is already shaping up to be one of the most unusual elections in American history, but one of the most unique aspects is the role that the judiciary is likely to play in the process. With former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump facing indictments at both the state and federal levels, the election season is as likely to be punctuated with legal news and updates as it is with campaign speeches and negative advertising. Moreover, the Supreme Court will be critical as it has heard or will likely be hearing cases surrounding whether states can disqualify Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment and whether he has absolute immunity from when he was president. When we also consider that President Joe Biden is facing his own investigations from House Republicans, the election seems poised to not only raise the political stakes but also considerable constitutional and legal questions.” Read more from Cash about presidential elections on MSUToday. Brian Kalt is a professor of law and the Harold Norris Faculty Scholar in the College of Law. He can comment on 20th Amendment issues, the electoral college and presidential prosecution and immunities. Contact: kalt@law.msu.edu “A lot of constitutional law questions that seemed purely theoretical are now front and center in our election campaign. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will move quickly and provide some clarity and certainty on these issues so that when November rolls around, voters can make a fully informed choice.” Ryan Black is a professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science, and a faculty affiliate in the College of Law. His expertise includes public opinion and the Supreme Court, and he can speak to appointments and vacancies. Contact: rcblack@msu.edu “Results of the 2024 election have the potential to profoundly shift the center of gravity in the politics of appointments to the federal judiciary, which includes, most importantly, the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that a president's most enduring legacy is who they put on the High Court, but confirmation politics today make the partisan makeup of the Senate a prominent roadblock in a president’s path to success.” Erica Frantz is an associate professor of comparative politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. She is a specialist on issues and themes relating to authoritarianism. Contact: frantzer@msu.edu “Today’s democracies typically fall apart at the hands of their elected leaders, such that elections are critical focal points for understanding democratic trajectories. Importantly, research shows that where leaders come to power backed by personalist parties – or parties that are synonymous with the leader’s persona – the risk of democratic erosion increases substantially. For the U.S., this implies that the more the Republican Party becomes indistinguishable from Trump, the more American democracy is vulnerable to collapse from within should Trump return to the presidency.” Political messaging and diversity Dustin Carnahan is an associate professor in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. His work focuses on how exposure to political information influences people’s attitudes, beliefs and decisions. His recent research focuses on how people come to encounter and believe misinformation and the effectiveness of messages designed to correct misinformed beliefs. Contact: carnaha9@msu.edu “While research suggests that political misinformation does not have a profound impact on voters’ decisions, the proliferation of misinformation can have more subtle effects on voters and elections – such as fostering toxic discourse around issues and candidates, promoting political polarization and distracting from more substantive matters. Concerns around misinformation are likely to be of great interest during the upcoming election cycle as advances in AI technology pose significant challenges to voters’ ability to identify what is real and what is fake.” Eric Juenke is an associate professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. He can comment on issues relating to minority candidates, specifically the candidacy and election of minority candidates. Additionally, he teaches in the Chicano/Latino Studies program. Contact: juenke@msu.edu “While we do seem to have a rematch at the top of the ticket, with a vice president who is a woman of color and another vice president who has yet to be announced but could also be a woman candidate, we will be seeing a continued diverse candidate pool this cycle, I expect. It’s still early yet in the congressional races, but there should be a number of high-profile races in the country and in Michigan that should highlight a more diverse candidate pool. While the parties still have a long, long way to go in recruiting and supporting women and racial and ethnic minority candidates to run for office, the trajectory is positive.” Daniel Bergan is an associate professor and the director of master’s studies in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, who also has an appointment in James Madison College. His research focuses on constituent communications with policymakers. Contact: bergan@msu.edu “When communicating with a policymaker, especially one with whom you disagree, you want to prevent them from discounting your opinion. One way to do this is by citing quality evidence to support your position. When contacting a policymaker about an issue, be aware that they may discount your opinion if they disagree. But note also that carefully crafted communications can convey your position without being written off — and could improve how accurately the policymaker understands public attitudes about public policies.” Read more from Bergan on MSUToday. Importance of local elections Sarah Reckhow is a professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. She can comment on topics related to education policy in the presidential election. She is a specialist on local elections and school board elections. Contact: reckhow@msu.edu “Partisan polarization is having a growing impact on education politics, and we can see growing disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on key issues such as school choice and curriculum. This polarization is playing a role in elections, even nonpartisan school board elections, and it will be an important trend to watch in 2024.” Erin Kramer is the community liaison coordinator for MSU Community and Student Relations. She also advises MSUVote to support students and the local community voting. She can comment on efforts to promote voting efforts and resources that can be offered by universities and municipalities. Contact: kramere6@msu.edu “Michigan State University is home to MSUvote, an Initiative that strives to support students in their civic engagement. Student participation in voting is both a right and a responsibility. MSUvote is committed to getting out the vote,getting out the vote, reducing barriers to registration, and supporting all educational initiatives. Over the years, Michigan State has been fortunate to work with the East Lansing, Lansing, Meridian Township, and Bath Clerks to support our students in exercising their right to vote. Participation is foundational to the function of democracy, and we are committed to supporting students in that activity. MSUvote has hosted registration rallies, absentee parties, and worked to facilitate awareness of elections through multiple campus channels over the years to support participation and education. This year, the MSU STEM Building will be home to one of East Lansing’s Early Voting Centers, it will be operating Saturday Feb. 17 through Sunday Feb. 25.” Top issues for voters David Ortega is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he is also a faculty laureate. He can comment on consumer, producer and agribusiness decisions that affect the agricultural and food sectors, including the cost of food, which remains a concern for many Americans. Contact: dlortega@msu.edu “Persistent high food prices are a constant reminder of the economic difficulties facing voters. Although overall inflation has cooled and grocery price increases have moderated, food costs 25% more today than it did four years ago. And given the frequent nature of grocery shopping, food costs have a disproportionate impact on how voters perceive inflation.” Robert Brathwaite is the associate dean for research and an associate professor with a specialization in international relations in James Madison College. He can comment on foreign conflict and relations, including how it will impact U.S. policy and the presidential election. Contact: brathwa1@msu.edu “As the war between Russia and Ukraine approaches it two-year mark, the political and economic ramifications of this conflict are becoming more profound. Some political dynamics to watch this year associated with this conflict include changes in NATO’s military posture, political unity of the European Union, deepening Sino-Russian strategic cooperation, and the 2024 US presidential election. This conflict will also impact important global economic trends this year that include global energy supplies, food security, technology export controls, and the role of the US dollar in the global economy. More importantly, this ongoing conflict is a catalyst to evolving changes in the global security architecture with costs and consequences that are unknown.” Jason Miller is the interim chairperson of them Department of Supply Chain Management and the Eli Broad Professor in Supply Chain Management in the Broad College of Business. He can comment on various supply chain issues such as the impact of Suez Canal diversions on disruptions and inflation as well as the impact of tariffs on U.S. firms and consumers, as foreign conflict and trade are top of mind this presidential election. Contact: mill2831@broad.msu.edu “Business leader across industries ranging from manufacturing and mining to retailing are closely watching the 2024 election cycle, as the outcome could substantially shape the business landscape in the form of tariffs, foreign policy toward China and Russia, and the extent of military escalation in the Mideast. All of these policies affect strategic, long-term decisions regarding global sourcing, market entry strategies, and capacity and demand planning.” Antonio Doblas Madrid is an associate professor in the Department of Economics in the College of Social Science. He can comment on the economy and the effect of inflation, which remains a top issue for voters this year. Contact: doblasma@msu.edu “The economy and inflation is an issue on the minds of many Americans.Forecasters and market-based measures of expectations both predict that inflation is likely to continue falling gradually in 2024, to about 2.5%. Thus, the inflation shock that hit the economy is expected to continue fading, although it may take some time to go that last mile from 3% to 2%. The Fed also appears to be quite optimistic on inflation, given its latest forward guidance.” Read more from Doblas Madrid on the economy and inflation on MSUToday.

Corwin Smidt
10 min. read

Tulane researcher available to talk about the climate-saving power of mangrove forests

Tulane University researcher Daniel Friess and his team work to unveil the critical role that mangrove forests play in the fight against climate change. Mangroves are shrubs or trees that grow mainly in coastal saline or brackish water. Mangroves have numerous tangled roots above ground that form dense thickets and have special adaptations to tolerate conditions that would kill most plants. Friess leads The Mangrove Lab at Tulane University. In a recent study, Friess and a team from the National University of Singapore used data from the past two decades to show how mangrove ecosystems surpass terrestrial forests in their ability to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Friess has researched and can discuss: - Mangrove forests sequester and store “blue carbon” at rates far exceeding their terrestrial counterparts. Mangroves can store up to five times the amount of carbon per acre than a terrestrial forest — this can help them contribute to mitigating and offsetting climate change. - Mangroves and their blue carbon face unique challenges in responding to climate changes such as drought and sea-level rise, but their productivity is expected to increase faster than terrestrial forests in a CO2-rich future. - Corporate sector and government strategies to harness blue carbon to meet climate targets (e.g., corporate net zero ambitions, the Paris Agreement). Blue carbon may be an especially powerful climate change mitigation tool for Small Island Developing States. - Restoration of mangroves to mitigate climate change. Many governments have ambitious targets to restore more than a million acres by 2024.However restoring mangroves is challenging to do at scale due to having to fix the environmental conditions that allow them to grow. - Other benefits provided by mangroves, such as their ability to slow wave energy and storm surge effectively in coastal areas such as the U.S. Gulf coast. To schedule an interview, contact Stacey Plaisance with Tulane University media relations at 504-247-1420 or splaisance@tulane.edu.

Daniel Friess
2 min. read