Tag Archives: US Elections

Guest Post: The Obama in-tray: find articles in IBSS

In the first of what will hopefully be a series of guest posts on the Intute: Social Sciences blog, we welcome Tom Carter, Assistant Manager of the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences.

Tom takes a break from writing over at the IBSS Blog and joins us to look at the challenges facing Barack Obama. He outlines how IBSS can help researchers, academics and students, tackle the subject.

Obama’s in-tray: find articles in IBSS by Tom Carter

Running with the theme of the Obama inauguration in the spotlight on the Intute Social Sciences blog, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) can be used to find peer-reviewed academic articles on some of the pressing issues ahead for the new president. IBSS is a specialist social sciences database that indexes 2,900 current social science journals in politics, economics, sociology and anthropology. The database includes almost 2.5 million bibliographic references to articles, book reviews, monographs and selected chapters from multi-authored volumes dating back to 1951.

Obama’s historic election victory, discussed recently on IBSS’s own blog, was to a large extent based on his ‘change’ rhetoric. However, the ‘hope’ of the country that he carries on his shoulders needs to be tempered in face of the enormous task that awaits him.

The most immediate problem is surely the global economic crisis that has recently taken a firm grip on domestic policy in the United States. The way in which Obama deals with this has consequences for the rest of the world and the increasingly deteriorating American economy has become the number one priority.

The US automobile industry is an area that Obama has marked out for urgent attention under his administration. A search on IBSS using the search terms ‘automobile industry and economic crisis‘ offers 32 results covering studies of many of the major international manufacturers’ responses to economic crises past and present. Similarly, a search on ‘mortgages, credit and U.S.A.’ returns 14 records (applying a limiter of articles published after 2007) that focus on the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage crisis that appeared to trigger the current recession.

That the economic crisis is now a global issue is beyond question and recent academic research is sure to expand quickly on advice for how to deal with such a problem. To date, a search for ‘recession and world economy‘ returns 12 records since 2007 in IBSS, but it is surely only a matter of time before this figure leaps.

Following on from the domestic and world economic agenda will be how to move American foreign policy forward. In this respect, it is worth looking at how the Bush years were defined by its foreign policy, with on-going conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea.

A simple search of ‘George W. Bush and foreign policy‘ in the subject fields of IBSS currently returns 126 journal articles and 24 monographs. A wider search on the ‘War on terror‘ returns almost 1,700 records – with the Bush Presidency lasting 2,922 days that makes one article for less than every day and a half of his leadership!

Combining ‘War on terror’ with Afghanistan as a geographic search returns 89 results ranging on analyses of the ‘Just war’ theory through to the management of military operations and the impact on Afghan society. Similarly, ‘War on terror’ combined with Iraq returns 312 results.

The underlying justification for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were American national security. A search based around this – ‘national security, defence policy and U.S.A.‘ – and using the date limiter to include all articles since January 2000 returns 13 focused results on the policy of striking pre-emptively at perceived threats to the United States, labelled the Bush Doctrine.

Finally, ex-presidents always have an eye on how they will be viewed by the public once they have passed the mantle on to the next leader. A wide search on ‘presidents, public opinion and U.S.A.‘ gives us 17 records, across the spectrum of recent American heads of state, such as Nixon, Reagan and Clinton. Amending this to ‘George W. Bush and public opinion‘ gives us 26 results; the higher figure may testify to the low standing in which Bush has left office and the high level of criticism that his policies have received.

After his resounding victory in November, Obama starts with strikingly high popular support, but it is clear that the task facing the new US president is not for the faint-hearted. Not only the American people, but the entire world need to be realistic in their expectations of hope and change.

IBSS is available free to UK HE and by subscription to other institutions and if you want to find out more there’s detailed information on how to access IBSS.

Obama Inauguration

barackobamaofficialportraitWith the inauguration of Barack Obama only a few days away it will be interesting to see how various Web 2.0 sites will handle the it.

Thus far I’ve spotted:

Flickr has set up an Inauguration 2009 Group for members to share their images of the day

Twitter has a channel set up by the Change.gov team to get updates about the day

Facebook has a blog post from Congressman Mike Honda on the Obama Inauguration

Delicious has a plethora of websites to choose from under the tag inauguration

YouTube has a inauguration channel already set-up which will feature closed captioning

One innovation has already taken place – as the picture that you see above is the first official Presidential portrait to be taken using a digital camera!

Get all the official news and updates the from the Presidential Inaugural Committee website that will be bringing some of this content together.

There will be plenty more innovations in terms of coverage of the swearing in of Barack Obama and if you spot any more then why not leave a comment.

And finally … if you can’t wait to hear the Inaugural Speech, then why not generate your own!

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the issue of Presidential Government.

A slice of American PIE

Alas this will be pretty much my last contribution to the Intute: Social Sciences US election coverage on this blog, as I will be away for election week itself.

During the next few days our Politics and Government editor Heather Dawson will be supplying you with further updates, some of them centred around various themes and issues, as well as the more news and results based updates.

I thought that this may be a good opportunity to review how my own Internet habits have changed over the last few months and see which sites have had a good campaign. A final chance to see which ones made it into my own Personal Information Environment or my bit of American PIE!

If the 2004 campaign saw the rise of blogging then the 2008 campaign has been the YouTube election or at least the one where online video has come to the fore. While I have enjoyed the daily updates from Hotline TV and the focus on hard polling numbers from Dr. Frank Newport of Gallop, it’s been Kotecki TV that has helped to keep me sane.

Kotecki started recording videos for YouTube from his college bedroom, getting responses from a number of the candidates who ran in the early primaries, before being signed up by Politico.com. His irrevent style and fast paced delivery are a welcome break from the at times all too serious debate, plus it’s all done with inside three minutes. I think there is a gap in market for a British Kotecki in the run-up to the next UK general election.

In terms of textual analysis, my weapon of choice has been Electoral-Vote.com with a single daily summary of the issues, backed up with an easy to understand map of the make-up of the electoral college based on current polls. A more considered view that filters out the buzz from other sites that feel the need to update themselves dozens of times a day, makes Electoral-Vote.com required reading.

For more in-depth analysis of various polling issues, I’ve been heading over to FiveThirtyEight.com on a regular basis, where those of you who get drawn deep into the numbers can find an analysis of just about every nuance and shift in the tracking polls.

I have been impressed by the coverage of the election from some of the non-election sites I keep track of as part of my job. TechCrunch and Mashable have both kept an eye on the role of the election online, while the daily round-up from TechPresident has been invaluable in terms of keeping up-to-date.

Finally, I have tried to keep any pro-Obama tendencies in check and one of the ways I have been doing that is by reading The New Nixon blog every day. I’m a bit of Watergate buff and so I’ve enjoyed their roll-call of the various mentions of candidate x or pundit y as the “New Nixon” – there have been quite a few!

Well, that’s all from me – I’ll see you again, sometime on the other side of the results – have a great election night!

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the US elections.

Photo from Flickr by Su-Lin under a Creative Commons license.

US Election latest link round-up

DSC00098 What’s unusual about this photo?

Not an awful lot at first glance – seeing an Obama 08 sticker on a lamp post is probably a very common site.

Except this photo was taken a couple of streets away from where I live (by me).

Unless Barack is running for Bristol City Council as a back-up in case he loses, I can’t see it swinging too many votes.

After all the data from If The World Could Vote seems pretty much in his favour!

Here’s a run down of the latest links relating to the US Elections:


Tomorrow – a small slice of American pie!

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the US Election.

Landslides, post-mortems and tightening races

This time next week … yep, the finishing post is in sight and there’s just one more week of hard campaigning left before we get to the fun part where we get to count the votes. But isn’t it already over and the in-fighting already starting or is there a genuine tightening of the race?

In general the candidate that is ahead at this point should go on to win the Presidency, but that does not mean a late surge cannot happen or has not happened in the past. The Gallop Poll takes us through some examples from history and looks at how Late Upsets are Rare but Have Happened perhaps most famously in 1980.

Talk of landslides is really ridiculous – try perusing this timeline of US Presidential Election maps and see that there will have to be a major implosion of the Republican vote to be in the same ballpark as the virtual Electoral College wipeouts of 1984 or 1968.

While post-mortems in to the McCain campaign are probably premature, the question of damage limitation is important in terms of stopping Democratic momentum that could lead to a filibuster proof margin in the Senate, if they secure 60 seats – the Republican cause has not been helped by the conviction of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens on corruption charges.

The narrative from the McCain campaign appears to be that the race is tightening, but this does not seem to be backed up by the polls. It has been pretty much dismissed by Nate Silver at 538.com and my own examination of the poll of polls data at Electoral-Vote.com shows the gap growing rather than tightening in the last week.

Getting back to how the campaign is playing out on the web – TechCrunch reports on a make-over for Politics.com which seems a little late in the day and Mashable highlights a few election poll and projection sources, which should be largely familiar to long time readers of this blog.

If 2004 was the blogging election, then it could be argued that 2008 is the YouTube election – or at least the election where online video came to the fore. TechPresident ponders How Much YouTube is Worth to Obama and McCain? before coming to the conclusion that it could be millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of free video views.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the issue of the US election.

Good polls, bad polls and real polls

With just over a week to go, what you might call “poll fever” is descending on the race for the White House – which polls should be trusted and why? Plus does it matter when real polling ie voting has already begun?

Tracking polls or polls where the same sample for example the same group of voters are followed over time to assess shifts in political preferences – are a vital tool in the pollsters arsenal. FiveThirtyEight.com has a great analysis of eight of the most in/famous tracking polls you may encounter and considers their various strengths and weaknesses.

Gallup analysts have been polling citizens from around the world and their analysis shows that residents of other countries favour Barack Obama by a nearly 4-to-1 margin, however the majority of those surveyed did not express an opinion on the subject.

So much for the perspective of the polling experts, what about an academic viewpoint? Well Stanford University are offering a course on the Geography of U.S. Presidential Elections over the next few weeks, with freely available lectures online – showing that the picture is much more complicated than headline poll numbers may imply and demonstrating that things have certainly changed a lot over time.

… and finally, there’s a timely reminder that early voting has already begun in many states, with estimates that over 30% of votes could be cast before election day – plus there’s no shortage of ways to vote with roadside access for disabled voters, absentee ballots (postal votes) for those who will be away from their home state and even drive through voting for fast food addicted voters!

Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the issues of polling, voting and the US elections.

Can I call you Joe?

With the Vice-Presidential debate over without any major gaffes from Sarah Palin or Joe Biden, the relentless election news cycle moves on – back to the economy with the vote on the 700 billion Dollar bailout bill in the House of Representatives coming up later today.

In all the post-debate analysis and spin, an easily over-looked news nugget may well be of much more importance. John McCain’s campaign have pulled resources out of Michigan and moved them to Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin – effectively handing over 17 electoral college votes to Barack Obama.

Why is this important? According to students of electoral math, this effectively means that the Republicans will need to take all the other swing states – a difficult task given that on current polling the Democrats seem to be ahead in most of them – and have been since the economy took centre stage as an issue.

Moving aside from the electoral kerfuffle and with thanks to the spotters at OpenCulture, a recent CNN programme looked at the global challenges facing the next US President – and tried to get beyond the issue of whether living near Russia qualifies as foreign policy experience.

It’s amazing to find five former Secretaries of State – Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, Colin Powell, and James Baker all together – the rest of the programme is available in 10 minute chunks via a YouTube playlist – for your viewing pleasure.

But if you would rather still be talking about the VP debate, then perhaps I can meet you half-way with this excellent round-up of the various Web 2.0 sites that tried to innovate in their coverage of the debates.

The TechCrunch verdict seems to be that the C-SPAN Debate Hub, Current’s Hack the Debate and MySpace’s MyDebates won the day.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the issues of the US elections, International Relations and Politics.

Is this the right room for an argument?

… I’ve told you once!

Well I was in the process of gathering together a few links and pointers for the first of the US Presidential debates, which is still scheduled for tonight. However with the recent financial turmoil and the fallout from John McCain suspending his campaign, we don’t know whether there will be a debate this weekend – or maybe there will just be a 90 minute interview with Barack Obama.

But just in case the debate does go ahead – here’s a few links of interest:

The Commission on Presidential Debates still insists that the debate will go ahead and it is a good source for looking back at past debates or try the American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara for a great selection of historical information

C-SPAN’s Debate Hub will be making the debate video available and embeddable, as well as tracking the debate in real time and trying to pull in real time reaction from around the web – a short YouTube video explains what C-SPAN are hoping to do

Election 2008 is the new Twitter aggregation service that brings together various updates from Twitter users relating to the campaign – you can filter the tweets by candidiate and it is sure to be aflame with heated discussion – the Twitter blog has more on this service

Past presidential debates in history is a short item from BBC News that pulls together the “greatest hits” from past presidential debates with short video clips and some nice context – probably not much that is new to debate fans, but a great introduction for the rest of us

If you find all this talk of debates a little heavy going, then why not get a little light relief. John McCain was due to appear on the David Letterman Show but cancelled as he was suspending his campaign and flying back to Washington to help in the financial negotiations in Congress – Letterman was not impressed, when he discovered that McCain seemed to be doing TV news interviews instead.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on political debates and the US elections.

What’s next in the US elections?

With the post convention bounces for both parties having just about worked their way through the system, we’re back in a close race, with a trend from the past few days slightly favouring Barack Obama and the Democrats. Or to put it another way – just about where we were before the conventions started!

The next (and possibly last) chance to shake up the polls is not very far away with the Presidential Debates coming up at the end of next week. Twitter and Current TV have announced plans to Hack the Debates and allow user feedback or Tweets to appear on screen while John McCain and Barack Obama debate.

Talk of debates reminds me of the classic debate of the modern era Nixon versus Kennedy in 1960 – and those two Presidents were presented as archetypes of how the US Commander-in-Chief is portrayed on film during the excellent BBC Four programme President Hollywood.

Other readings that have invaded my consciousness this week:

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the US Elections.

The calm before the storm?

We’re in a the summer lull of the US Presidential election and despite speeches in Berlin, Vice-Presidential speculation and basically the American equivalent of the British “silly season” the campaigns are preparing themselves for the nominating conventions and hard campaigning in the autumn.

But how does the election actually work? Well luckily the fine folk over at the Common Craft Show have turned their attention away from their usual fare of technology issues – to produce this excellent guide to Electing a US President in Plain English.

So while the various poll of polls data from sites such as Electoral-Vote.com, Gallop and FiveThirtyEight.com show the race is pretty tight, but with Obama maintaining a small but consistent lead over McCain, when this is translated via state by state polls, into a projected Electoral College result, it does not look like being the sort of close election we’ve had in 2000 and 2004.

However, there is plenty of time for this to change and in the meantime, why not sample of some of the best of the web on the US elections – just scroll past the Editor’s Choice selections to get to the latest additions to Intute: Social Sciences.