Vanderbilt political scientist assists NBC News with midterm election analysis

Joshua Clinton

Vanderbilt University political scientist Joshua D. Clinton has been named an election analyst for NBC News and will assist the network with its coverage of the 2010 midterm elections.

The associate professor of political science will use his strong research-based expertise in congressional politics, campaigns, elections, polling and statistics to help NBC News call races as the polls close and precincts report data from across the country on election night.

“Working with NBC News is a wonderful opportunity to apply my academic knowledge to analyze one of the most important ways that citizens interact with their government,” Clinton said.

Prior to Election Day, Clinton will review the statistical models and data that NBC News uses to help analyze and interpret election outcomes. He will also think creatively about possible problems or concerns that could arise in the context of the current races. Then on Nov. 2 he will be at NBC’s headquarters in New York to analyze the returns and track their significance for the composition of the 112th U.S. Congress and control of governorships across the country.

According to Senior Election Analyst John Lapinski, who is also a political scientist at University of Pennsylvania, “Clinton is an important part of the election forecasting team at NBC, and he will play an important role in helping to accurately access the outcome on Election Day.”

Clinton noted that 2010 promises to be an especially interesting election year given the turbulent political and economic climate. “Assessing the electoral influence of the Tea Party movement and the deterioration of the economy will be important issues to consider,” Clinton said. “In addition, there are many historical reasons why since 1934 the incumbent president’s political party has gained congressional seats in only two midterm elections – 1998 and 2002. Looking at the election results within the context of these issues is critical for understanding how voters feel about the present and future direction of the nation.”

Clinton, who earned his doctorate in political science at Stanford University, looks forward to bringing back some of his experiences as an election analyst to share with his students. “This project will offer an example of how what students learn in the university classroom is relevant and useful for understanding political issues,” he said.

Clinton serves as a co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt.