Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

For the latest information related to COVID-19, visit fsu.edu/coronavirus

COSSPP Faculty Cited As Experts On Pandemic Impact

As coronavirus continues to upend day-to-day life, the university is citing faculty from the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy as experts who can help the press and public understand and prepare for all the changes occurring during the pandemic.

One aspect of life that will definitely be impacted are the upcoming 2020 elections. In Ohio, where the governor canceled that state’s primaries, we see one vivid example of how the global pandemic has already impacted elections here in the U.S..

Incumbents and candidates are facing the prospect of campaigning without traditional tools, such as national conventions, rallies and door-to-door outreach. In a world where social distancing is the new norm, campaigns are forced to adjust their strategies and tactics to help persuade an electorate living through a time in American history without precedent.

Faculty within the college are recognized experts on how this will shape the 2020 elections from the local, statewide and national perspectives.

Hans Hassell, assistant professor, Department of Political Science
Hassell’s research focuses on political institutions and specifically on political parties and their role in electoral politics.

“Campaign tactics have evolved significantly over the past few decades and these adaptations have fundamentally changed the scope of conflict in political campaigns. Our current situation will also fundamentally affect how candidates’ campaign, the voters they reach, and ultimately the dynamics of citizen involvement in elections.”

Matt Pietryka, assistant professor, Department of Political Science
Pietryka’s research focuses on understanding how the social and political contexts of life influence the political attitudes and behavior of individuals. In particular, he studies how political discussion with friends and family can affect individual political behavior.

“I am currently studying voting and elections so I can discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the November elections.”

Randall Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics
Holcombe is the author of 15 books and 150 articles published in academic and professional journals. His primary areas of research are the economic analysis of public policy and public finance.

“Biden and Trump will be their party nominees, and one question is whether the conventions will be held this summer. Whether the pandemic helps or hurts Trump depends on how he handles things. So far, I think things have worked in his favor, but if the crisis atmosphere goes on many more months, people are likely to become uneasy.”

Millions of Americans are staying home to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases.

Among those avoiding other people are many older Americans, whose age puts them at a greater risk of serious complications from a COVID-19 infection. That isolation — for seniors and for everyone else — can bring loneliness and frustration.

The university has recognized Dawn Carr, associate professor of sociology and faculty associate at the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, as an expert on how the sudden requirement to avoid in-person socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic affects older adults and others.

Carr researches factors that improve older adults’ ability to remain healthy and active for as long as possible. Her work examines the complex ways important events and transitions (such as employment changes, retirement, volunteering, social losses and caregiving) shape physical, psychological, cognitive and social health in later life.

“Older adults, relative to other age groups, are in a more precarious situation. Not only are they more likely to be seriously impacted by COVID-19, they are much more likely than other age groups to have been socially isolated to begin with, placing them at added risk. Consequently, we need to not only be identifying ways to decrease risks of contracting the virus, we need to ensure that they stay socially connected with others in their community even though they can’t interact with people face-to-face.”