Amanda Urban (F12) and Michael Brandon (W12) were recently named runners-up for the 2012 MIW Outstanding Paper award. Students in the Michigan in Washington Program are required to write a major research paper during their semester in Washington.  Papers are presented publicly at a poster session after students return to the Ann Arbor campus.  Awards this year recognized “creativity, ambition and substantive relevance” according to Neill Mohammad, research instructor for the fall and winter cohorts.  

Brandon’s paper, Divided We Fall: The Effect of Divisive Primary Campaigns on General Election Success in U.S. Presidential Elections, explores the competitive nature of primary campaigns and the effect this has on the eventual nominee’s electoral prospects in the general election. By examining ten presidential elections and fourteen strategically selected gubernatorial elections, Brandon’s research suggests that the candidate who emerges from the more divisive primary campaign tends to receive fewer votes than his or her opponent in the general election.  When asked about the most important lesson from this endeavor, Brandon said:  

 “This research project affirmed my understanding of the importance of evidence in crafting an effective argument.  You can’t hide a lack of substance behind flowery language.  Rhetoric won’t get you anywhere if your position is unfounded in facts, trends and empirical data."

Amanda Urban centered her research on the variation of water quality in the United States and examined effective regulatory action taken by different states. Her research for her paper, Active Enforcement Tools Protect Water Quality, was based on data gathered from the New England region. Urban discovered that political ideology, environmental commitment, pollutant variation, and financial funding didn't show a positive correlation to a water quality program's effectiveness.  However, her research supports the idea that states with active enforcement regulatory plans are more likely than those without to be effective in reducing negative impacts on water.  She was shocked to learn that there are no uniform water quality standards across the nation and hopes to see the EPA set uniform standards in the future.  

Urban will return to campus this fall to complete her degree in December with a major in Political Science and a minor in Program in the Environment.  Brandon, who is interested in social justice advocacy on behalf of the disabled community, is currently interning in The Washington Post’s Polling and Research unit and will return to campus this fall and graduate in 2013. Both students plan to attend law school after graduation.  

The next MIW poster session, which is open to the public, will be on Thursday, September 20 at 5PM in the Eldersveld Room (5670 Haven Hall).