Ben Kantack, first year UCARE student
Faculty sponsors: Sergio Wals and Dona-Gene Mitchell
Project Title: Exploring the Interrelationships between Campaign Dynamics and Public Opinion
Ben’s UCARE project investigated the dynamics between citizen’s political knowledge levels and their engagement in the political realm. Using data from the National Annenberg Election Survey, Ben’s research efforts helped shed new light on a long-standing topic of interest in political science. Under the guidance of his faculty sponsors, Ben delved into the question of which underlying dimensions of political knowledge are the most likely to display gains throughout the course of a political campaign and whether or not this knowledge is equally distributed among partisan camps.
Ben’s participation in the UCARE program provided him the opportunity to acquire a skill set necessary to conducting successful independent research. From the crafting of an interesting research question relevant to current scholarly debates, to the data management and analyses involved in the project, Ben got hands-on experience delving into the complexities of individual political behavior as shaped by and in response to campaign dynamics. Most critically, Ben learned about research on citizens’ political behavior keeping a broader perspective in mind: citizens’ political behavior is at the very heart of democratic politics. Ben and his faculty sponsors plan to present their findings at a national conference.
Sergio Wals (left) and Ben Kantack (right) in good spirits after a productive research session