John G. Geer is Dean of the College of Arts and Science. Geer earned his PhD from Princeton University (1986), securing his BA from Franklin and Marshall College (1980). Geer has published 5 books and over 20 articles on presidential politics and elections, and recently served as Editor of The Journal of Politics (2005-2009). His most recent book is In Defense of Negativity: Attacks Ads in Presidential Campaigns published by the University of Chicago Press, which won the Goldsmith Book prize from Harvard University (2008). He has provided extensive commentary in the news media on politics, including live nation wide interviews for FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, and NPR. Geer has also written op-ed pieces for Politico, The Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, and Chicago Tribune. His lecturing has earned him a number of awards at Vanderbilt, including the "Squirrel Award," the 2004 Birkby Prize, the 2005 Jeffrey Nordhaus Award, and the 2009 Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for teaching excellence. Geer is currently working on a series of projects that looks at the news media's coverage of attack advertising and how negativity may help voters make better choices.
Areas of Expertise (7)
Princeton University: Ph.D. 1986
Princeton University: M.A. 1982
Franklin and Marshall College: B.A. 1980
- The Journal of Politics : Editorial/Advisors Board
Selected Media Appearances (10)
A Deadly Political Divide
U.S. News & World Report online
For many vaccine-reluctant or vaccine-hostile Republicans, "it's Big Brother meets 'Lord of the Flies,'" says John Geer, a Vanderbilt University professor and co-director of a recent Vanderbilt University poll showing a deep partisan divide on vaccines and the danger of the pandemic. That survey found that 74% of Republicans agreed with the statement that the pandemic "is largely over and things should go back to the way they were," while 14% of Democrats agreed.
Joe Biden Leads in 9 Swing States Over Trump With 20 Days Until Election
If Trump takes all the states likely to go Republican and Biden takes the Democratic ones, the president will have 125 electoral college votes to Biden's 212, according to The New York Times. Florida would give Trump another 29 votes, keeping him in the race, but if Biden takes it, he would be less than 30 votes away from the 270 needed to win. "Trump has to carry Florida," John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, previously told Newsweek. "I don't see the path forward in the [electoral] college without Florida."
Five things to watch in the first Trump-Biden debate
John Geer, an expert on voter opinion at Vanderbilt University, wonders if Trump will react poorly to sharp or unfriendly queries from moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. “Will Trump have a tough time answering non-softball questions?” Geer said.
Former Gov. Bill Haslam won't run for US Senate, saying it is not his calling
For the second time in 21 months , Gov. Bill Haslam has declined to run for the U.S. Senate, the Knoxville Republican said in an exclusive letter submitted to the USA TODAY Network-Tennessee.
Despite bipartisan sheen, Trump's speech spoke to his base
“There is no reason to think he wants unity. He thrives on disunity,” said John Geer, an expert on public opinion at Vanderbilt University. “The president may call for working together, but past behavior suggests otherwise.”
A Crucial Senate Race in Tennessee Is Coming Down to the Wire
“Statewide, [Blackburn] has never carved a very popular figure,” said John Geer, Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University and political science professor. “She’s not well-liked, even within Republican circles.” Geer noted Tennessee Republicans have for years gravitated towards more centrist Republicans, like Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander (and Howard Baker before them), as well as Gov. Bill Haslam, who demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle — something he says Blackburn lacks.
Democrats’ new bet: boring can win
“There are two parts of Trump,” says John Geer, who directs Vanderbilt University’s political polling. “One part is the anger in the rural areas about ‘Make American Great Again.’ The other part is [Trump’s] incivility — that part people don’t like.”
Tennessee Senate race: Bredesen and Blackburn deadlocked in new poll
The bottom line is that Tennessee's Senate race will be determined by which candidate is better able to turn out their base, as well as any national waves that occur—blue or otherwise," said John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science.
The 2 must-watch races in Tennessee’s primaries, briefly explained
“This is a significant lead for Bredesen, but it’s not a lock,” John Geer, a Vanderbilt University pollster, said then. “Partisanship could swing voters back in Blackburn’s favor and bring home the GOP base.”
Once a favorite, Rep. Diane Black loses the Tennessee governor’s primary race
“Tennessee is a Republican state; it’s conservative, but it’s not as conservative as you would think,” John Geer, a pollster with Vanderbilt University, told Vox. “There is a consistent pragmatic streak in the state.”
Selected Articles (4)
Rethinking the Concept of Negativity: An Empirical ApproachPolitical Research Quarterly
Keena Lipsitz, John G. Geer
2017 Over the last twenty years, there has been a tremendous amount written on “negativity” in political campaigns. Yet, there is a conceptual disconnect between the definition of negativity used by researchers and how citizens define negativity. In this article, we show how large this disparity is and what its consequences are.
Negativity, Information, and Candidate Position-TakingPolitical Communication
John G. Geer & Lynn Vavreck
2016 The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of how negativity affects voters’ assessments of the positions candidates take on issues. We argue that the inferences people make about candidates’ positions on issues differ depending on whether the information they encounter comes from attack or self-promotional statements.
Courting the Women’s Vote: The Emotional, Cognitive, and Persuasive Effects of Gender-Based Appeals in Campaign AdvertisementsPolitical Behavior
Cindy D. Kam, Allison M. N. Archer, John G. Geer
2016 In this paper, we examine the ways in which citizens emotionally react to and cognitively process campaign advertisements that contain group-based appeals. Specifically, we focus on the emotional, cognitive, and persuasive effects of three campaign ads aired during the 2012 election campaign that contained explicit appeals to women voters.
The News Media and the Rise of Negativity in Presidential CampaignsPS: Political Science & Politics
John G. Geer
2012 Negative ads have become increasingly common in presidential campaigns. Figure 1 well illustrates this point (see also West 2009). The upcoming 2012 elections will almost surely augment this upward trend of more and more negativity.