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Political science professor prepares for upcoming book on presidential election

September 20, 2012

Georgia Duerst-Lahti will write chapter in Gender and Elections out in fall of 2013

Reading at least one newspaper and perusing the polls. Monitoring the news on MSNBC, Fox, and CNN and taking press calls.

That’s all in a day’s work for Political Science Professor Georgia Duerst-Lahti during the presidential election season.

Not only does Duerst-Lahti discuss the election in her classes, she will also be writing about it in the third edition of Gender and Elections, a book published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Susan J. Carroll and Richard L. Fox. It is scheduled to be released fall of 2013.

Her tentatively titled chapter, “Presidential Elections: Gendered Space and the Case of 2012,” will focus on how masculinity is playing out in the election between Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  

Obama represents the “came from the single mom, mixed race, really smart, worked his way up, there in the community, athletic kind of masculinity,” according to Duerst-Lahti, while the type of masculinity Romney embodies is that of “the conservative, religious, excellent provider.”

The political expert said those archetypal masculinities, especially overlaid with race, creates a subtext for the voters. 

Duerst-Lahti said the outcome of this election, which resembles the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, is difficult to say at this point.

Though it is hard to unseat an incumbent, which candidate wins will depend on what happens with the economy before November, if someone makes a big gaffe, and how the two fare in the debates. Duerst-Lahti predicts Obama will do better as long as he’s not too cerebral or too much the professor.

“While I can look to 2004, there’s going to be so much else happening that there’s always something new,” Duerst-Lahti said. “That’s what’s fun about politics. You can point to the past and you can point to patterns, but there’s always something new and I like that part.”

Source: Georgia Duerst-Lahti is a political science professor and a faculty member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She teaches courses in U.S. government, including those related to political parties and elections, presidency, congress, public leadership, media, and women and gender. Duerst-Lahti is a frequent guest expert and analyst for public radio, regularly contributing to the "Week In Review" program with Joy Cardine.  She also regularly contributes to newspapers and web sources, especially about campaigns and elections. In professional associations, she has been elected as president of the Midwest Women's Caucus for Political Science and the president of the national Women's Caucus for Political Science. For more information, visit her website here.