Alumni Share Career Insights at JHU Networking Night

Members of the JHU Center for Advanced Governmental Studies Alumni Advisory Board generously shared career advice to current students and alumni at a lively networking event last night at the Center.  Each member of the Board shared their own experiences as students at JHU and how those experiences shaped and influenced their career trajectory.  Many mentioned the lasting impact that interaction with other students and faculty as well as their coursework and thesis writing have had on their career path.  Thank you to members of the Advisory Board for taking time out of your busy schedules to give back to the community.  Your achievements and continued dedication to the degree programs at JHU make us so proud and grateful.

From left: Martin Burns, Manager of Political Intelligence AARP, Paul Burden, VP XAAP Media, Jim Gauthier, Principal Lobbyist Livingston Group, and Sarah Lovenheim, Communications Director for the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus

James Sonne and Peter Danjcek discuss the upcoming presidential transition process and the possible impact on their agencies
Sarah Lovenheim, left, listens as Swann Nciweni discusses the work her organization is doing in Haiti on water sources, an issue she first tackled in her masters thesis.  From left: Matt Laslo, Martin Burns, Paul Burden
Amitai Zuckerman talks defense policy with KristenMatt Laslo, political journalist and Dustin Todd, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Semiconductor Industry Association catch up with each other


James Sonne, Sadaf Khan, and Dustin Todd


Jennifer Bachner Discusses What Washington Gets Wrong on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

This past Wednesday, Jennifer Bachner, director of the MS in Government Analytics Program, discussed her new book, What Washington Gets Wrong (Penguin Random House, with Benjamin Ginsberg) on the Kojo Nnamdi Show (NPR).  She was joined by Dan Tanghlerini of SeamleassDocs Federal.

The book discusses the misconceptions federal officials have about the American people and offers solutions regarding how we can build stronger bridges of understanding and communication bewteen government and the citizenry.  

On the show, Dr. Bachner and Mr. Tanghlerini delved into some of the specific misunderstandings officials have and ways to improve transparency in government. 

You can listen to the full show here.


Presidential Debate Viewing Party Draws Large Crowd (and Laughter!)

The JHU Center for Advanced Governmental Studies held a presidential debate viewing party last night to watch the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Adjunct faculty members, Robert Guttman and Matt Laslo, held a "pregame" debate discussion, sharing their insights, while students also introduced themselves and shared their predictions at the outset.  There was enough time before the building closed to share concluding thoughts about how the debate went.  It was a lot of fun and sometimes... painful, but there was plenty of good company (and pizza)  to share the whole experience with!    


Predebate Discussion with Robert Guttman and Matt Laslo


Data-driven Campaigning in 2016

The most recent meeting of the Government Analytics Breakfast forum featured Dr. Vanessa Perez, a lecturer with the MS in Government Analytics program and expert on voting and elections.  Dr. Perez's talk, How the 2016 Campaigns Use (and Don't Use) Data, examined the ways in which political campaigns rely on data to shape their mobilization and persuasion strategies.

Dr. Perez began by discussing the types of datasets historically and currently available to parties and campaigns.  Following the implementation of the Help America Vote Act (2002), voter data files have become much cleaner, richer and accessible.  Campaigns can now access individual-level datasets that include (depending on the state) voters' names, addresses, race, party identification and turnout history.  These datasets, merged with widely available consumer data, provide campaigns with tremendous predictive power when identifying existing and potential supporters.

One of the chief uses of data by campaigns is the identification of "persuadables" -- individuals who might be convinced to support the candidate if targeted with the right message.  If the state provides party ID data, campaigns will often target self-identified independents who have voted in prior elections (as the strongest predictor of whether someone will vote in a current election is his/her turnout history).  If the state does not provide party ID data, campaigns will try to identify persuadables using other variables, such as citizens' neighborhood characteristics.

In the 2016 election, both the Trump and Clinton campaigns have embraced data-driven strategies, though in different ways and to different degrees.  While the Clinton campaign has built off the strategy and infrastructure developed by the Obama campaigns, Trump has implemented a "radically different strategy for a radically different candidate."  Rather than targeting habitual voters, the Trump campaign is focused on new voters -- voters who have a high likelihood of supporting Trump but may not have voted consistently (if at all) in the past.  The election results and exit poll data will provide insight into the effectiveness of the candidates' strategies.

Many thanks to Dr. Perez for fascinating and enlightening talk.

You can view the full presentation here.