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David Redlawsk - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

David Redlawsk

Professor and Chair, Political Science Political Science and International Relations | University of Delaware


Prof. Redlawsk is a political psychologist with expertise in campaigns, voter behavior, decision making, and emotion.




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David P. Redlawsk, PhD (Rutgers University, 1997) is the James R. Soles Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science and International Relations and Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. In addition to the PhD, he holds an M.A. degrees from Rutgers University, an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University, and a B.A. from Duke University. Dr. Redlawsk is a past President of the International Society of Political Psychology, and currently serves as its Treasurer. He previously served ISPP as a Vice President and as an elected Governing Council member. He was a co-editor of the journal Political Psychology from 2010 through 2015. Dr. Redlawsk is an author or editor of 9 books and has published more than 60 articles and book chapters. His newest books are the Oxford Encyclopedia of Political Decision Making, for which he is Editor-in-Chief, and A Citizen's Guide to the Political Psychology of Voting, with UD Ph.D. Michael Habegger (2020, Routledge). An exert on the US presidential nominating system, he wrote the definitive book on the Iowa Caucuses and its effects on nominations, Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating System, with Caroline Tolbert and Todd Donovan. He is also co-author of The Positive Case for Negative Campaigning with Kyle Mattes, and How Voters Decide, with Richard R. Lau. Dr. Redlawsk's research focuses on campaigns, elections, the role of information in voter decision making, and on emotional responses to campaign information. Dr. Redlawsk has received several grants from the National Science Foundation, and served on the Board of Overseers for the American National Election Studies. Dr. Redlawsk is also experienced in “real-world” politics, often calling himself a “recovering politician.” He lost and won elections for local office in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s and New Jersey in the 1990s and served as Johnson County, IA Democratic Chair during the 2004 Iowa Caucuses. He was also one of Iowa’s elected delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Industry Expertise (2)

International Affairs

Political Organization

Areas of Expertise (8)

Political Campaigns

Decision Making

Survey Research


Voter Beavior and Attitudes

Political Psychology

Experimental Methods

Presidential Nomination Campaigns

Media Appearances (8)

The Democratic Party agreed to overhaul its primaries, but that arduous process is far from over



“Despite the fact that it looked like relatively smooth sailing for the president when he proposed it … the kind of backlash you’re hearing, the reactions, are exactly what we would have expected,” said David Redlawsk, chair of the political science department at the University of Delaware and co-author of the book “Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process.”

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Voters hit the polls to decide who will control Congress, statehouses

Courthouse News  online


“I will say that anyone who thinks they really know what's going to happen on [Election Day] is really just guessing,” University of Delaware political science professor David Redlawsk told Courthouse News.

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Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation Status in Jeopardy

US News  online


"The demographics of the state do not guarantee the outcome in the state. That gets lost sometimes," says University of Delaware professor David Redlawsk, a former Democratic party chairman in Iowa’s Johnson County and author of the book "Why Iowa?: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process."

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It’s time to get serious about voting rights — in Delaware and across the U.S. | Opinion

The News Journal  online


Barriers to voting and threats to the right to vote are real and growing. The Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which virtually gutted key parts the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, along with this year’s Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee case upholding new voting restrictions, mark only the beginning. In their wake, extremist politicians are moving quickly to make voting even harder wherever they can. Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Tom Carper, and the entire U.S. Senate needs to act now to stop this attack on democracy.

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U.S. election: What is the electoral college and how does it work?

Euronews  online


"Some people wanted Congress to select the president. Others wanted it to be independent of Congress. The Constitutional Convention was near the end, the delegates were tired. They ultimately came up with a compromise that meant that the states elected the president, not Congress," said David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware.

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Where Biden and Trump are campaigning shows where they think their opportunities are

The News Journal  online


"The biggest reason to pay attention to where candidates are going is the one resource you can't make more of, a candidate's time," said David Redlawsk, an expert in polling and chair of the University of Delaware's political science department.

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The three anxieties of 2020

KWWL-7  online


On Tuesday night, I participated in the webinar, “Understanding the 2020 Election,” hosted by the University of Iowa. During that discussion, one of my fellow panelists, David Redlawsk of the University of Delaware, discussed the role of emotions in politics. As Redlawsk noted, while “negative” emotions such as anger can have behavioral effects (such as increasing the likelihood of voting), less powerful emotions, such as anxiety, operate differently, by forcing voters to “pay attention” to certain issues.

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The world’s most overrated general, Donald Trump’s insults, and why contempt matters in politics

LSE Blog  online


While President Trump appears to have popularized its use, the deploying of contempt against political opponents is nothing new, write Kyle Mattes, David P. Redlawsk, and Ira J. Roseman. In new research, they find that contempt played a major role in two 2014 midterm Senate elections, with voters both perceiving it from campaign messaging, and being less likely to vote for a candidate the greater the level of contempt they felt for them.

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Articles (6)

Academic Freedom Under Attack in Turkey: 2019 Presidential Address, International Society of Political Psychology

Political Psychology

2021 This paper addresses the ongoing challenges to academic freedom in Turkey, site of the 2011 ISPP meeting and a then-burgeoning cadre of political psychologists working to build the discipline in Turkey. In January 2016, the Academics for Peace signed a petition challenging the government's policies towards the Kurds, following which the government began to purge both signatories and other academics. The purge gained traction after the July 2016 attempted coup, which the government put down. Academics and others were dismissed by decree (KHK) and barred from working in any occupation. This paper, a revised version of the 2019 ISPP Presidential Address, discusses the scope of the attack on academic freedom in Turkey and reports on a survey of both dismissed and nondismissed academics in Turkey to discuss the implications of being unexpectedly torn from a position that is as much a calling as it is a job.

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The Effects of Politician’s Moral Violations on Voters' Moral Emotions

Political Behavior

2021 Existing empirical research on voters’ responses to individual politicians’ moral transgressions pays limited attention to moral emotions, although moral emotions are an integral part of voters’ moral judgment. This study looks at U.S. voters’ discrete moral emotional responses to politician’s moral violations and examines how these discrete moral emotional responses are dependent on voters’ own moral principles and the extent to which they identify with a political party. We report on a 5 × 3 between-subjects experiment where 2026 U.S. respondents reacted to politicians’ violations of one of five moral foundations defined by Moral Foundations Theory. We randomly vary which moral foundation is violated and the partisanship of the politician. While voters’ own moral principles somewhat condition moral emotional responses, we find that voters’ moral emotional responses mostly depend on partisan identification. When voters share party identity with a politician committing a moral violation, they respond with less anger, contempt, disgust and shame than when they do not share party identity. The effect is greater among strong partisans. However, we find limited evidence that specific moral emotions are activated by violations of particular moral foundations, thereby challenging Moral Foundations Theory.

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Voluntary Exposure to Political Fact Checks

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

2020 For political fact-checking enterprises to be effective, two conditions must be met. Voters must be interested in fact-checks, and the fact-checks must encourage voters to reevaluate their beliefs. Here, we study the former: whether voters are interested in reading fact-checks of political candidates’ statements. We use a simulated campaign environment in which participants’ exposure to fact-checks are voluntary. We find that voters are interested in fact-checking, especially for negative campaigns and personal (versus issue) campaigns. We also find that topics salient to voters are most often fact-checked. Finally, we provide evidence for the operation of a motivated reasoning process, as statements made by less preferred candidates were more deeply scrutinized.

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Reprehensible, Laughable: The Role of Contempt in Negative Campaigning

American Politics Research

2019 Negativity is common in political rhetoric and advertising, but its effects are variable. One important moderator may be the specific emotions communicated by the messages and potentially in recipients. Contempt may be the emotion often conveyed by uncivil ads, which have attracted considerable interest, particularly in light of increased partisan polarization. Using data from web-based surveys in New Jersey and Iowa, we examine the role contempt played in two U.S. Senate races in 2014. We find respondents perceived contempt—more than anxiety or anger—in four televised negative campaign ads and in candidates’ statements about opponents. Moreover, respondents’ feelings of contempt toward candidates, though less intense than feelings of anger, were of equal or greater significance than anger or anxiety in predicting voting intentions regarding three of the four Senate candidates across the two elections.

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Voters’ Partisan Responses to Politicians’ Immoral Behavior

Political Psychology

2019 Politicians’ moral behaviors affect how voters evaluate them. But existing empirical research on the effects of politicians’ violations of moral standards pays little attention to the heterogeneous moral foundations of voters in assessing responses to violations. It also pays little attention to the ways partisan preferences shape responses. We examine voters’ heterogeneous evaluative and emotional responses to presumably immoral behaviors by politicians. We make use of moral foundation theory’s argument that people vary in the extent to which they endorse, value, and use the five universally available moral intuitions: care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity. We report on a 5 × 3 between-subjects experiment asking a random sample of 2,026 U.S. respondents to respond to politicians’ violations of different moral foundations. We randomly vary which of the five foundations is violated and the partisanship of the actor (Republic/Democrat/Nonpartisan). Results suggest that partisanship rather than moral foundations drives most of U.S. voters’ responses to moral foundations violations by politicians. These foundations seem malleable when partisan actors are involved. While Democrats in this sample show stronger negative emotional response to moral violations than Republicans, partisans of both parties express significantly greater negativity when a politician of the other party violates a moral foundation.

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Bringing the Heat Home: Television Spots about Local Impacts Reduce Global Warming Denialism

Environmental Communication

2019 Efforts to educate the general public about global warming and the potential policy solutions that could mitigate its effects have relied on the diffusion of facts. But, cognitive scientists have documented that psychologically distant events like global warming elicit less concern and motivation to act relative to immediate, proximal and certain events. This paper documents a quasi-experiment that tested the effect on attitudes of a television campaign that emphasized the temporally, geographically and socially proximal impacts of global warming on the ecosystems and business activity of a historically conservative area of the United States. The campaign aired on one cable provider. Subscribers of that and of competing providers in the same zip-codes were polled after the campaign. Respondents exposed to the campaign were more likely to believe that global warming is happening, to accept the scientific consensus, to be more concerned about impacts and more supportive of policy solutions.

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Accomplishments (5)

Fellow, Harken Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, Drake University (professional)

2015- 2016

Wye Faculty Fellow, Aspen Institute, (professional)


Alexander George Award for Best Book in Political Psychology, International Society of Political Psychology (professional)


Collegiate Teaching Award, University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (professional)


Artinian Award for Professional Development. Southern Political Science Association (professional)


Education (4)

Rutgers University: PhD, Political Science 1997

Rutgers University: MA, Political Science 1993

Vanderbilt University: MBA, Marketing 1982

Duke University: AB, Political Science 1980

Affiliations (5)

  • Editorial Board, Advances in Political Psychology
  • Editorial Board, Politics and Life Sciences
  • Editorial Board, Polity
  • Past-President, International Society of Political Psychology
  • President, International Society of Political Psychology

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (5)

How Voters Multiple Identities Affect their Response to Politicians’ Moral Violations

Annual Meeting of the American Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association  University of Kent, UK


Voters’ Moral Emotions in Response to Politicians’ Moral Violations

Annual Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology  Berlin [Online]


The Impact of Gender on Complex Political Thinking

Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association  Washington, DC


Testing an Integrative Theory of Beliefs and Emotions Predicting Trump Support

Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association  Washington, DC


Presidential Address.: Empowering Citizens in Illiberal Times: The Political Psychology of Oppression and Resistance.

Annual Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology  Lisbon, Portugal