Magazine Feature / People

Political science professor to be a DNC delegate

It’s been Seth Masket’s life work to study politics, but he’s never been a politician until now.

The DU political science assistant professor campaigned and won one of the 70 delegate spots Colorado contributes to the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

“I study campaigns and have worked on a number of them, but I haven’t actually been a candidate for anything since I ran for student government when I was in college,” Masket says. “It’s a very different perspective.”

Kelsey Yamasaki (BA ’08) and five other students campaigned for Masket. They made fliers, handed them out and talked to anyone who would listen.

“I thought that Professor Masket would make a great delegate because he is a great professor and he meets the three Ps: personality, politics, and policy,” Yamasaki says.

“They did a far better job selling me than I did,” Masket says. “Everyone I spoke to already had one of my fliers and knew about me.”

Masket wanted to be a delegate for the experience, but also so he could conduct research. He hopes to survey both delegates and protesters to see what attendees believe and which issues divide them and unite them.

“It’s been a while since there’s been a serious academic study of convention participants, and we’re hoping this will be of value to a lot of political observers,” Masket says.

The research is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota. Joanne Miller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, is spearheading the research.

“We not only want to know why people say they choose one candidate over another, but we also want to know their motivation for doing so,” Miller says.

As a delegate, Masket’s been given a schedule of events he’ll need to attend during the week of the convention, but his main job will be to nominate the Democratic Presidential candidate.

“I teach a class on political parties with a particular focus on how parties nominate candidates. My experiences at the convention will undoubtedly change the way I teach this class in the future,” he says.

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