Rooney Center Faculty in the News 2021-2022

Author: The Rooney Center

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Reporters across the country regularly reach out to Rooney Center faculty, highlighting their research and seeking their expertise on stories about all aspects of American politics. In the 2021–22 academic year, our faculty were quoted by The Economist, USA TodayThe National Catholic Reporter, and other outlets. Here are some of the highlights:


"The suffrage anniversary raises questions of who is American, who gets to have a say and who gets to participate in our democracy, said Notre Dame University political scientist Christina Wolbrecht.

'This is a broad fight about who deserves to have power in this country,' said Wolbrecht, author of the book 'A Century of Votes for Women.' 'People do not like to lose status.'"

 – Errin Haines, "Women of color lead the fight for voting rights 101 years after suffrage," The 19th News, August 18, 2021.


"Erin Rossiter, of the University of Notre Dame, has found that even imagining a conversation with an opponent can cause at least a temporary reduction in hostility to supporters of the other party."

America’s political scientists are worried about ‘lethal partisanship’,” The Economist, October 9, 2021.


“'I don’t see anything really too egregious here,' said Darren Davis, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. 'If the Republicans are trying to create two safe districts, they’re not very good at it because they’re only marginally safe, and given turnout issues, I think that may all be a wash.'"

– Christian Sheckler, "St. Joe County election maps would bolster party strongholds, box out Democratic candidate," South Bend Tribune, October 31, 2021.


"'Any claim that the vice president can unilaterally overturn the results of a presidential election is patently absurd,' Matthew Hall, a professor of constitutional studies and political science at the University of Notre Dame said via email. ‘If the vice president had total discretion to overturn election results, the party that controls the White House could simply refuse to surrender power when they lose an election. Such an arrangement would completely undermine the integrity of our democratic system.'”


The Electoral Count Act of 1887 similarly doesn’t grant the vice president authority to overturn elections. The law lays out the role of Congress in certifying presidential election results  and specifies what steps should be taken in the case that there are objections to the results.

Hall said the Electoral Count Act was passed in the wake of the 1876 presidential election to minimize the vice president’s role and ensure the vice president would have 'minimal discretion' in determining the validity of Electoral College votes. He added that the Act instead ensures the 'primary responsibility for certifying the electoral votes rests with Congress.'"


McKenzie Sadeghi, “Fact check: Mike Pence did not have the power to overturn 2020 election results, keep Trump in office,” USA Today, February 1, 2022.


"I asked Luis Fraga, a politics professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the school's Institute for Latino Studies, about Pelosi's assertion. Fraga told me that 'we don't have the polling to make that determination.'

But he added, 'Latinos tend to poll more conservative on this issue [abortion] compared to liberal Democrats, but it is rarely the most important issue.'

'For some evangelical Latinos and some traditionalist Latino Catholics, it may be determinative, but they are a minority of the Latino vote,' Fraga said.

He noted, too, that in any election, a Republican is likely to get at least 25% of the Latino vote, that the demographic has never been as monolithic as one might think listening to talking heads on television breezily pontificate on 'the Latino vote.'

Fraga also noted that the disconnect between young activists and the voters they seek to reach can be 'a very significant problem.' For example, the website at the voter mobilization group Voto Latino repeatedly uses the term 'Latinx,' despite the fact that the Pew Research Center found most Latinos are unfamiliar with the term and do not use it.

'The best way to contact a Latino voter is with someone who is a co-ethnic and who refers to the demographic in the same way they do in the local community,' Fraga explained. In some areas, 'Hispanic' is more common, and in others 'Latino' is typical. Only among academics and students is 'Latinx' even used."

Michael Sean Winters, “What role will religion play in the midterm primaries?National Catholic Reporter, April 27, 2022.


"A large reason for the increase of religiously unaffiliated Americans is the rising role of religion in politics, primarily within the Republican Party, according to Geoff Layman, the chair of the department of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

'There's been an allergic reaction to the merging of religion and conservative Republican politics, such that people—who are not conservative or Republican—have become increasingly alienated from religion,' Layman said. 'That has driven them to become increasingly likely to say they are none.'"

– Sarah Elbeshbishi, "Americans' erratic relationship with religion will be tested again after abortion ruling, experts say," USA Today, May 29, 2022.


Luis Fraga testified before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Read more here.