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Benjamin Knoll
Benjamin Knoll is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and specializes in public opinion and voting behavior. He is the director of the Boyle County Exit Poll and his blog on U.S. and Kentucky politics can be found at

Entries by Benjamin Knoll

No, the Charleston Shooting Was Not An Attack on "Religious Freedom"

(69) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 2:54 PM

A recent editorial by the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News editors argued that the recent murders of nine black church-goers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina by the young Dylann Roof "was an assault on all Americans as well as...

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Theological Liberalization is Not to Blame for Decline in Mainline Protestantism

(3) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 9:26 PM

One of the major findings from the Pew Research Center's recently-released update to their American Religious Landscape Survey is the decline of Catholicism (down 3.1%) and Mainline Protestantism (e.g. Methodism, Presbyterianism, Episcopalianism; down 3.4%) among the American population compared to Evangelical Protestantism (down only 0.9%) over the last...

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Mormon "Middle Way" Approach to LGBT Protections Boosts Its Public Favorability

(19) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 2:23 PM

As the Supreme Court is set to rule next month on the Constitutionality of same-sex marriage, many political and religious leaders continue to seek a balance between LGBT rights and religious freedom. While Indiana's recent attempt was roundly criticized, a recent nationwide poll suggests that the...

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Why Hillary Clinton's Candidacy Is Important for Young Girls

(0) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 8:37 AM

When my six-year-old daughter saw Hillary Clinton's recent announcement for the presidency, her first response was to say, very innocently and matter-of-factly, "Oh! I didn't know that women were allowed to be president."

While I don't mean this as an endorsement of Clinton's candidacy (far from it --...

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Exit, Voice, Loyalty and Mormonism

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 1:31 PM

In his 1970 book "Exit, Voice, and Loyalty" economist Albert Hirschman discusses what members of organizations do when they become dissatisfied with certain aspects of those organizations. He argues that they basically have two options to express their dissatisfaction: they can vote with their feet by leaving the...

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Pawnee City Manager Ben Wyatt Faces an Uphill Battle for Congress in 2018

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 8:00 AM

Pawnee, Indiana City Manager Ben Wyatt recently announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the Indiana 9th congressional district in the 2018 midterm election. While many are enthusiastic about his decision (especially Deputy Director of the Midwest National...

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Many Mormons Are Unaware of the Messy Details of LDS Church History

(393) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 11:14 AM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in the headlines recently after a series of essays were posted on the church's "Gospel Topics" website that detailed much about the its history with polygamy (see here, here, and here). Most...

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Just How Big Is the 'Mormon Left'?

(76) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 10:02 AM

The rank and file of the Mormon Church in the United States is widely, and correctly, perceived to be overwhelmingly conservative-leaning and deferential to authority. It is the vocal members of the more progressive-leaning Mormon left, however, that seem to be getting all the attention lately. This can been seen...

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Campaign Advice for Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 5:34 PM

There's no shortage of campaign strategy advice in this year's Kentucky Senate race. In that spirit, I'll add my own two cents.

If I were advising the McConnell campaign, I would say...

Don't screw up.

You're the incumbent and incumbents already enjoy somewhere between a 5%-10%...

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Motivational Psychology and Leadership in Higher Education

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2014 | 12:32 PM

Motivational psychology has been a popular topic recently as private-sector employers have been turning to social science for ideas on how to better motivate employees, improve performance, and increase their bottom lines. While most popular treatments of the topic have focused on the business world, as a college professor I'm...

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Research Suggests Nativism Drives Opposition to Health Care Reform

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 11:10 AM

The following entry is co-authored by Dr. Benjamin Knoll and Jordan Shewmaker, a Centre College senior majoring in political science. We are equally responsible for the content.

President Obama's landmark health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), continues to dominate political headlines, most recently due to the woes associated...

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Did Anti-Mormonism Cost Mitt Romney the 2012 Election?

(153) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 8:56 AM

Much attention was given last year by pundits, journalists, and academics alike as to how Mitt Romney's Mormon faith might affect his chances at winning the White House in 2012. Now that nearly a year has passed since voters decided the election in Barack Obama's favor, we can examine more...

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Research Suggests 'Hidden' Support for Immigration Reform Among Conservatives

(6) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 2:52 PM

On July 10, 2013, the House GOP caucus met to discuss their plans for immigration reform in the House of Representatives. This came almost two weeks after the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill 68-32 with 14 Republican votes. After several hours, House GOP leaders emerged...

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Can Religious Leaders Sway Parishioners on Immigration? Research Says Yes

(6) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 11:57 AM

President Obama recently met with more than a dozen representatives from some of the country's largest religious organizations to talk about his push for comprehensive immigration reform. The president asked for their input and spoke about their important role in shaping attitudes of their parishioners on the issue....

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Mitt Romney, Neoconservatism, and the Book of Mormon

(158) Comments | Posted October 18, 2012 | 4:50 PM

The third and final presidential debate of the 2012 presidential campaign season will be held Monday evening and will focus on foreign policy issues. So far, Mitt Romney's Mormon faith was mentioned only briefly in the closing minutes of the second debate, less frequently than many had expected. It's no...

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2012 Vice-Presidential Debate: Post-Debate Reactions from Centre College

(3) Comments | Posted October 12, 2012 | 11:03 AM

The 2012 vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, held this week at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, is now over and on its way to be sliced and diced by pundits, politicians, and possibly the cast of Saturday Night Live. It has been an amazing experience for me...

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Previewing the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate

(48) Comments | Posted October 7, 2012 | 4:00 PM

This Thursday the eyes of the nation and world will be focused on Danville, Kentucky as Centre College proudly hosts the 2012 vice presidential debate between Congressman Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden. Coming fresh off the heels of last week's opening debate between Governor Romney and President Obama,...

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Romney and Obama More Alike in Their Personalities Than They Care to Admit

(0) Comments | Posted October 2, 2012 | 6:00 PM

Presidential campaigns tend to focus on the contrasts between candidates. Campaign ads and candidate stump speeches emphasize differences on everything from tax plans to prior experience to visions for the future. This year, the Obama and Romney campaigns are no different. There is some evidence, though, that in one key...

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Bumper Sticker Politics

(1) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 11:25 AM

As a Government professor at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, one of the main themes I teach my students is to avoid the temptation to engage in "bumper sticker politics." What I mean by this is that students who acquire a quality liberal arts education (such as the one Centre...

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Presidential Debates

(1) Comments | Posted August 2, 2012 | 4:38 PM

Centre College is gearing up for hosting the vice presidential debate in October, and its campus will soon be turned upside-down and inside-out with the preparations for media and security. We've come to take the current tradition of presidential debates as a given, but it may be surprising to know...

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