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John Geer

Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Science

National expert in political campaigns, political advertising and public opinion. Co-directs the Vanderbilt Poll.


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.

Media Appearances

  • After 1st term, Gov. Lee unopposed in GOP primary election

    “Bill Lee has been popular during his time as governor. He started out in the low 60s, but it’s kind of moved down now to mid the mid to high 50s ... which most governors would covet immediately,” said John Geer, a Vanderbilt University dean who co-directs the school’s public policy poll.

    July 13th, 2022

  • As right-wing violence spreads, Republicans duck responsibility

    And those people “show up in huge numbers in primaries,” said Vanderbilt University political scientist professor John Geer. Many lawmakers worry far more about angering primary voters than about the general election since the lion’s share of congressional districts aren’t competitive in general elections, Geer said.

    May 20th, 2022

  • A Deadly Political Divide

    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.

    July 23rd, 2021

  • 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."

    October 14th, 2020

  • 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.

    September 28th, 2020

  • 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.

    July 11th, 2019

  • 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.”

    February 6th, 2019

  • 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.

    November 4th, 2018

  • 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.”

    October 25th, 2018

  • 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.

    October 18th, 2018


Ph.D., Princeton University

M.A., Princeton University

B.A., Franklin and Marshall College


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