Video: Thomas E. Mann on the 2010 Midterm Elections

Noted congressional scholar Thomas E. Mann spoke at Vanderbilt University Oct. 28 about the outlook for the 2010 midterm elections. The public lecture was sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Mann, the W. Averell Harriman Chair and senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, spoke five days before voters across the country cast ballots, addressing “The 2010 Midterm Elections: Driving Forces, Likely Outcomes, Possible Consequences.”

Mann recently co-authored The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track. The highly respected political scientist is interviewed frequently by national print and broadcast journalists about politics and governance issues.

Mann’s talk marks the official launch of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, which is housed within Vanderbilt’s Department of Political Science. The center was created to support empirical and theoretical research on questions central to the survival and flourishing of democratic institutions in the United States and abroad, according to David E. Lewis, professor of political science and co-director of the center.

“Democratic institutions are the arenas in which political conflicts can be resolved peacefully,” Lewis said. “This is especially important during the early part of the 21st century – a time in which there is a tremendous amount of political upheaval, social change and international conflict.”

Currently, the center is focusing on four areas of research: legislative politics and policy-making; executive branch politics and regulatory policy-making; elections and electoral rules; and the media and democratic systems of government.

John Geer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and center co-director, noted that while the center supports graduate education and brings together outstanding faculty across disciplines to discuss cutting-edge research, there is also a community outreach component.

“The public can take advantage of future programs on current issues that might include incivility in politics, the presidential appointments process and how Congress works,” Geer said.

In addition, next January the center will launch the Vanderbilt Poll, which will conduct telephone surveys from time to time to gauge the opinions of Tennessee citizens on key state and national issues. “We plan to start this around the time that a new governor takes office and there will likely be some new faces in the state legislature,’ Geer said. “The data will be used to inform broader public policy debates.”

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