Events to help voters make sense of the 2016 presidential race

If you’re looking for answers or insights to the frequently perplexing 2016 presidential race and have an afternoon, evening or maybe a whole day, UC Berkeley is assembling experts on the topic at three events next week. Each program is free and open to the public.

White House

Three public forums will explore the 2016 presidential election. (iStock image.)

“With California poised to play a potentially critical role in determining the Republican nomination contest — and with Americans at large deeply concerned about what the Democratic and Republican races mean for our future — this is an especially important time to bring leading scholars and journalists together to analyze the political landscape,” said Eric Schickler, professor and chair of UC Berkeley’s Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science.

Obama’s impact

The first program, “The Presidency: Looking Back, Looking Forward,” will be sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) from 7:30-9 p.m., Monday, April 11, in Banatao Auditorium at Sutardja Dai Hall.

Experts will examine the legacy of Barack Obama’s eight years in office and how his agenda on issues ranging from health insurance to foreign policy has influenced those vying to replace him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Featured speakers will be:

  • Thomas Mann, a resident scholar at IGS and author of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism.
  • Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who studies health policy, retirement security policy, campaigns and elections and California policy and politics.
  • Julia Azari, an associate professor of political science at Marquette University, whose research explores the relationship between political parties and the presidency. She also is a contributor to website.
  • Lynn Sweet, a political columnist and Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as a UC Berkeley alumna.

Registration information is available online.

A closer look

Next up, UC Berkeley’s political science department, in cooperation with IGS and the Commonwealth Club of California, will host “Election 2016: The 19th Annual Travers Conference on Ethics and Accountability in Government” from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., on Friday, April 15, at the Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way in Berkeley.

Experts from academic institutions, the media (Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker and Henry Enten, a senior political writer and an analyst for the FiveThirtyEight site), and the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., will try to sort out four key subjects:

  • The processes for each party’s presidential nomination.
  • Likely dynamics of the fall presidential campaign.
  • How voters really decide who to vote for.
  • Prospects for how the next man or the first woman in the White House is likely to govern — campaign promises aside.

For more details and to register, visit the program website.

Cal Day panel

Finally, on Cal Day, UC Berkeley’s annual open house on Saturday, April 16, the public will have a bounty of entertaining and educational programming to choose from — including the sharing of insights on “The 2016 Presidential Election” by three of the campus’s top political scientists:

  • Eric Schickler, chair of the UC Berkeley political science department, is an authority on American political parties and Congress.
  • Paul Pierson is an expert on American politics and public policy as well as the co-author with Yale University’s Jacob Hacker of the new book American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper.
  • Gabriel Lenz, an expert on voting behavior and the author of Follow the Leader? How Voters Respond to Politicians’ Policies and Performance (2012), in which he reported that even when a policy issue takes the public spotlight, people rarely shift their vote to the candidate whose position best aligns with their own. Before joining the UC Berkeley faculty, Lenz co-authored a paper that concluded TV leads less-informed citizens to vote based on candidates’ appearances.

The trio will discuss the election from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Room 1 of LeConte Hall.

A campus map is online.

“Together these events offer the Berkeley community an unusual opportunity to hear from leading experts about what is shaping up to be a historic election contest,” said Schickler.


Explore Berkeley Blog posts by UC Berkeley faculty on the 2016 election and related issues.