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Benjamin Knoll
Benjamin Knoll is the John Marshall Harlan Associate 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

Teaching Donald Trump: What Is a College Professor to Do?

(4) Comments | Posted June 8, 2016 | 10:50 AM

I was an avid partisan when I was in high school. I had my (correct) opinions and anyone who didn't agree with me obviously either didn't know all the facts or simply had poor judgment.

As I went on to college and later to pursue a Ph.D. in political...

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Many Donald Trump Supporters Deserve Respect

(4) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 11:13 AM

In a recent editorial, The New York Times columnist David Brooks skewered the character of Republican front-runner Donald Trump while simultaneously arguing that many of his supporters "deserve respect. They are left out of this economy."

I appreciate that David Brooks makes this important distinction between Donald Trump...

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Are Donald Trump Supporters Merely 'Unhyphenated Americans'?

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2016 | 3:30 PM

One of the most interesting puzzles of this election cycle for both academics and pundits alike has been trying to explain exactly who exactly are all these Donald Trump supporters in the GOP voting base. Answers have focused on a variety of possible answers, including demographics,

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Do Americans Prefer a "Democracy" or a "Republic"?

(2) Comments | Posted December 4, 2015 | 1:11 PM

On December 1 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton spoke about voting laws at an event recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She argued that "the right to vote is so fundamental to our democracy." One day later, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said

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Explaining Reactions to the Mormon Policy Change on Same-Sex Marriage

(20) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 2:31 PM

Last week the LDS Church changed some of its policies regarding how same-sex marriage is dealt with in its congregations. Entering into a same-sex marriage is now officially defined for members as "apostasy" which automatically triggers a disciplinary council in which the members would likely be excommunicated. Further,...

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What Politicians Get Wrong About Immigration

(10) Comments | Posted October 12, 2015 | 2:03 PM

Much as it did in the 2008 presidential primaries, the topic of undocumented immigration has become a dominant theme in the 2016 primary campaign, especially on the Republican side. Listening to the rhetoric from our candidates would lead us to believe that immigration patterns...

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Americans Strongly Favor Equal Applications of the Law Over Religious Freedom Accommodations

(25) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 4:29 PM

A recent nationwide poll conducted by political scientists from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky shows that by a wide margin, Americans strongly favor equal treatment under the law over respecting individual religious beliefs when the two come into conflict. Similar to other recent surveys, the Fall...

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Ben Carson, Mitt Romney, and Colin Powell on the Possibility of a Muslim President

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2015 | 3:44 PM

NBC Meet the Press interviewer Chuck Todd, September 20, 2015: "So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?"

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson: "No, I don't, I do not," he said. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely...

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Who Would Do a 'Good Job' as President?

(2) Comments | Posted September 24, 2015 | 10:34 PM

Due to my line of work people often ask me for my opinion on the various presidential candidates. A common question that comes up is "who do you think would do a good job?" My initial mental response usually goes something like this: "U.S. presidents have

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Buddhism and Infant Parenting

(1) Comments | Posted September 20, 2015 | 2:21 PM

My wife, six-year-old daughter, and I recently welcomed twin daughters into our family. They are terribly adorable and photogenic. While we are having lots of fun adjusting to the chaos of having two newborn babies in the house, it turns out that raising infant twins is a lot hard work....

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'Pope Francis Effect' Improves 1 in 4 Americans' Views of the Catholic Church

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2015 | 5:17 PM

As the United States prepares for an extended week-long visit from Pope Francis later this month, findings from a public opinion survey conducted earlier this year show that His Holiness is improving views of the Catholic Church among a wide swath of Americans.

According to the...

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New Website Showcases the Diversity of Online Mormonism

(9) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 5:45 PM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has recently been experiencing a "growing pains" of sorts as a growing body of scholarship has presented evidence which many have interpreted to represent a challenge to the literalness or historicity of some of the religion's foundational truth narratives. The Church's reactions...

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

(56) 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

(386) 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'?

(70) 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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