Newswise — RIVERSIDE, Calif. – When the Republican and Democratic parties hold their quadrennial nominating conventions this week, Americans of all political stripes will hear party positions on issues ranging from the economy, income inequality and environmental protection to national security, immigration and health care. Convention watchers also will observe a first in U.S. political history – the nomination of a woman as the presidential nominee by a major political party.

These scholars from the University of California, Riverside are available to help make sense of the issues and their significance in this year’s presidential campaign. Cell numbers are available upon request.Poverty, the economy, jobs

David Brady, professor of public policyDirector of the Blum Initiative for Global and Regional PolicyPoverty, inequality, labor, social class, social policy[email protected]’s research focuses on poverty, inequality, and social policy. He investigates a variety of questions related to poverty/inequality, comparative political economy, social policy, politics, health/healthcare, globalization/development, and work/labor. He is the author of “Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explain Poverty” and co-editor of “The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty.”

Christopher Thornberg, director of the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting and DevelopmentAdjunct professor at the UCR School of Business AdministrationThe economy, housing and jobs[email protected]

Thornberg is the founding partner of Beacon Economics LLC and is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading economists. An expert in economic forecasting, regional economics, labor markets, economic policy, and industry and real estate analysis, he was one of the earliest and most adamant predictors of the sub-prime mortgage market collapse and of the global economic recession that followed.

Robert Kleinhenz, economist and executive director of research at the Center for Economic Forecasting and DevelopmentThe economy, housing and jobs[email protected] of California’s leading economists, Kleinhenz has nearly 30 years of experience analyzing the U.S. and California economies and the economies of California’s many diverse regions.Immigration, race

Jennifer Merolla, professor of political scienceTerrorism, immigration, general campaign messaging[email protected]

Merolla is available to discuss how the political environment shapes individual attitudes and behavior across many domains such as candidate evaluations during elections, immigration policy attitudes, foreign policy attitudes, and support for democratic values and institutions, as well as the impact of terrorism on the candidacies of Democratic women. She is co-author of “Democracy at Risk: How Terrorist Threats Affect the Public.”

The Democratic Party is viewed as less capable than the Republican Party when it comes to leadership, national security and foreign policy, she says. When terrorism is in the headlines, these voter perceptions hurt women candidates in the Democratic Party but not the male candidates, whose gender counteracts the party’s weak reputation on national security. Terrorism headlines also do not hurt women in the GOP, whose reputation of being tough on terrorism appears to inoculate its female office-seekers from the weak-on-national-security stereotype ascribed to Democratic women.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of political science and public policyImmigration, Asian American voters, immigrant engagement[email protected]

Ramakrishnan’s research focuses on civic participation, immigration policy, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and immigration in the United States. Ramakrishnan directs the National Asian American Survey and is founder of, which seeks to make policy-relevant data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders more accessible to a variety of audiences. He is the author of “The New Immigration Federalism” and is founding editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, an official section journal of the American Political Science Association.

Jennifer Najera, associate professor of ethnic studiesImmigration[email protected]

Nájera is a cultural anthropologist who is available to discuss the impact of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the campaign. Her current research focuses on undocumented students in higher education. Her expertise is in Mexican racial categorization, Latino/a education (including higher education), the history of Mexican immigration, and contemporary immigration policy. She is the author of “The Borderlands of Race: Mexican Segregation in a South Texas Community.”

Benjamin G. Bishin, professor of political scienceQuestions of democracy, representation, identity and ethnicity, public opinion, legislative politics, Cuban-American and LGBT politics[email protected]

In his 2009 book “Tyranny of the Minority,” Bishin describes how intense minorities are able to achieve their policy objectives. “Politicians gain disproportionate benefits by appealing to citizens who feel very strongly about things. Usually they are able to tap in to some aspect of how individuals see themselves. It’s particularly easy for this intense minority of tea party supporters to achieve their policy objectives because their objectives are to stop things from happening in Congress. Congress and our government in general are designed to make it difficult to get things to happen.”

Bishin was the principal investigator for exit polling in Miami-Dade County in the 2004 election. Research he and scholars from the University of Miami and the University of Exeter conducted before the November 2008 presidential election found that Cuban-American voters remain strongly Republican, conservative and opposed to easing sanctions on the Castro regime. Cuban American voters in Florida are more conservative than those nationally, however, so backing for normalization among Cuban American voters generally is likely strong. Exit polling in Florida found greater diversity on social issues, which may portend changing political allegiances.

Dylan Rodriguez, professor of ethnic studiesRace, voter ID laws, felony disenfranchisement[email protected]

Rodríguez is available to discuss the impact of voter ID laws on African Americans in particular, and what accounts of low levels of voter turnout among this population group.

“Voter ID laws were essentially created for the purposes of strengthening U.S. racial apartheid in government and elections. The long legacy of American apartheid segregation has created an electoral system that remains stubbornly racist in both its implementation and outcomes – from gerrymandering to the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions (which has focused primarily on disenfranchising African Americans with criminal convictions).

“It is clear that the stubbornly institutionalized hyper-policing, racist criminalization, and structural impoverishment of black populations across the U.S. continue to make a fraud of any pretensions that the American electoral system is even remotely reflective of democratic (much less reparative and anti-racist) principles.”Education policy

Eddie Comeaux, associate professor of higher educationRacial diversity, equality in higher education[email protected]

Comeaux maintains an active research agenda that examines the college student experience – with special attention on athletes and underrepresented students – and how those experiences influence their subsequent outcomes. Central to much of his work are issues of access and equity.

Cassandra Guarino, professor of education and public policyTeacher quality, school choice, links between health and education[email protected]

Guarino has held prior positions as an economist at the Rand Corp. and on the faculties of Michigan State and Indiana Universities. Her research focuses on teacher quality, teacher labor markets, school choice, and issues in which health and education are linked. Recent work has included several studies related to value-added measures of teacher performance, teacher effectiveness in the early grades, school choice, teacher mobility, and special needs identification.Gun policy

Augustine Kposowa, professor of sociologyGun policy, relations between police and minority communities, police shootings[email protected]

Kposowa studies gun availability, gun storage practices and violent death. He has conducted research on gun policy with regard to police use of force. Kposowa can also address the issue of police shootings, and guns with regard to the national divide over its control and regulation.

“There are weaknesses in our present regulatory controls, and even simple background checks will do little to curb the violence because in the case of suicides, for example, those that acquired guns did so legally; thus a broader ban is needed.”

“The Second Amendment was passed at a time when whites were afraid of black people, freed slaves; indeed, only whites were expected to own weapons. Furthermore, they could not have foreseen the coming of assault weapons; they would have been crazy to pass such an amendment. We need to read our nation’s history and come to grips with both the good and the ugly. In our generation, we should realize the carnage done by firearms, and ask ourselves whether this is what we want our country to be – where human life is so devalued. The Constitution was amended to disallow the sale and manufacture of alcohol, in a misguided experiment. Surely, if we could amend the Constitution to ban alcohol, we should be able to ban guns, whose sole purpose of manufacture is to kill – not animals, but humans. This is the real debate that ought to take place in America, a Constitutional Amendment on Guns, not petty stuff like background checks. Let us be bold and embrace a better tomorrow!”

“It seems police officers are not held accountable at all. There is a serious need for police reform as the ready use of guns by police to shoot African Americans is a potential threat to national security. I propose the formation of regional review boards in the United States that are called upon the scene when police shoot and kill, do an independent inquiry, have subpoena powers, and recommend outcomes to an independent prosecutor. … Reform should also be aimed at the police academies, and training guidelines be revealed to the public. There might be too much emphasis in police training on using force and shootings, and little or no emphasis on de-escalating situations of conflict.”

“There has been a real deterioration in the notion of the ‘sanctity of human life’ in this country. This begs the question, ‘Do only white lives matter?’ When shootings occur, and a majority of the white population keeps quiet, this sends a very bad signal.”

Steven Clark, professor of psychologyDirector of Presley Center for Crime and JusticeGun violence[email protected]

Clark has done extensive research on eyewitness memory and identification, and has consulted with law enforcement, and defense and prosecuting attorneys on the matter. With regard to gun violence prevention, Clark says there is a serious need for more research. “California is ahead of the curve on this. Gun violence research at the federal level has been shut down, but the California Legislature just approved $5 million to create a center for research on gun violence. In California the Legislature passed a bill a few months ago to systematically document all officer-involved shootings, and passed a bill just a few weeks ago to allocate $5 million to the University of California system to create a research center for gun violence.”Environment, climate change

Carl Cranor, distinguished professor of philosophyEnvironmental issues[email protected]

Carl Cranor Cranor is known globally for his research on the regulation of toxic substances, the ethics of risk, and the philosophy of law and science. His work has changed how scientific testimony is addressed in court cases as well as aspects of regulation in California. He is the author of “Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants,” “Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law,” and “Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice.” He co-authored a report for the Office of Technology Assessment, “Identifying and Regulating Carcinogens,” and a study by an Institute of Medicine Committee, “Valuing Health: Cost Effectiveness Analysis for Regulation.” He has served on science advisory panels (California’s Proposition 65, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Nanotechnology, and Biomonitoring Panels) as well as on Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences Committees.

Cameron Barrows, research ecologist at the UCR Center for Conservation BiologyClimate change and its impact on biodiversity and national parks[email protected]

“Lost in the debates about e-mails is one of the most significant environmental issues facing our country and our planet – climate change. Even the Pentagon has ranked this as a priority from the standpoint of national defense; as the planet warms essential water and food resources will shift; nations with less will be pressed to meet the basic needs of their people. Warmer, and in many areas wetter, conditions could foster the spread of disease-carrying mosquitos, spreading malaria, Zika, dengue, West Nile diseases, and ticks carrying Lyme disease. Lumber resources are at risk, directly and indirectly, from massive wildfires due to the spread of pine beetles that are no longer controlled by cold winter temperatures. National parks and wilderness areas, the repository of our nation’s natural heritage, are ill-prepared to stem the degradation of that natural heritage as the planet heats up and rainfall patterns shift.”Women in politics

Catherine Allgor, distinguished external fellow, Center for Ideas and SocietyWomen in American political history, First Ladies (First Gentleman?), the power of women voters[email protected]

Allgor is a historian who specializes in issues of women and politics with an emphasis on the role of the First Lady. She is available to discuss the presumptive nominees’ spouses as possible First Ladies – or First Gentleman – as well as the long history of American women in politics, and what it might mean to have a female president. She is the author of “Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government,” “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation,” and “The Queen of America: Mary Cutts’s Life of Dolley Madison,” explores the memoir Mary Cutts wrote of her famous aunt. Allgor was appointed by President Obama to serve on the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.Voter behavior

Shaun Bowler, distinguished professor of political scienceVoter behavior, direct democracy, third-party candidates[email protected]

Bowler’s research examines the relationship between institutional arrangements and voter choice in a variety of settings ranging from the Republic of Ireland to California’s initiative process. He is the co-author of “Demanding Choices: Opinion Voting and Direct Democracy” and has studied elections all over the world. He analyzes the effect of third party candidates on elections.