Political Scientists engage in lots of different kinds of writing. Political theorists may write papers that wrestle with the great normative questions of politics—power, justice, responsibility, and freedom. Formal modelers use sophisticated mathematical modeling to provide a set of predictions about how the world works. Empirical political scientists make systematic observations about how the political world works by aggregating data and subjecting it to statistical tests. Qualitative researchers may use case studies, interviews, and participant observation to help describe and define how the political world works. This paper by Political Science major Dustin Mull bridges these last two styles of research and uncovers a tremendous amount about how Arkansas politics works—and most importantly, why it works the way it does. I hope that students will see this paper as just one example of the types of work that characterizes political science. I also hope that after reading it, you’ll have a better understanding of Arkansas politics, and electoral politics more generally. Politics is a struggle over who gets what, where, and how, and Dustin’s paper illustrates that struggle beautifully.
-Christopher Cooper, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs