Before and during Election Day — and as California and the nation assess the results — UCLA faculty members have been sharing their expertise in local and national media outlets. Their comments provide context about the process, the outcome and the impact of the vote.

A roundup of their insights follows; this page may be updated periodically.

For daily summaries of UCLA faculty comments in local, national and international media, visit UCLA In the News.


Post-election lawsuits

Jon Michaels, professor of law, on KABC-TV

“One can bring a lawsuit. The real question is whether there’s a legal basis for it, and whether the courts have an appetite for jumping into an election — particularly an election in which it seems like there are, increasingly, a number of options for the Biden administration to win.” 

Electoral College math

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, on KCAL-TV

“If Arizona continues to hold for Biden and if Michigan and Wisconsin go for Biden, and if Biden wins one of the two congressional seats. … If he picks up one of those, I believe that gets Biden to 270, assuming he wins Nevada and Hawaii.” (Yaroslavsky segment begins at approx. 3:00.)

Trump’s early declaration of victory  

Mark Peterson, Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Law, in Elite Daily

And experts agree: Mark A. Peterson, Ph.D, a professor of public policy and political science at UCLA, previously told Elite Daily: “The president is not the determiner of who wins the election.” ... Peterson tells Elite Daily that Trump’s early declaration of victory is “the most serious assault on our democratic institutions of any president, at least in modern times.” He adds it also “sets the stage for political turmoil.”

Why election results might take days

Dan Thompson, assistant professor of political science, on KCBS-TV

“Election administrators have been focused on this issue for many, many months. And I think by and large … they’ve been preparing for exactly these types of concerns.” 

Los Angeles City Council results 

Yaroslavsky in the Los Angeles Times

Yaroslavsky predicted a [Nithya] Raman victory would embolden the movement that rallied for her — younger, grassroots activists who favored Bernie Sanders and are frustrated with City Hall — to get even more involved in the 2022 election, when eight council seats and three citywide seats will be up for grabs. “Anybody at City Hall who doesn’t recognize the significance of this election,” he added, “is making a mistake.”

The evolution of voting rights in California

Alisa Belinkoff Katz, fellow, UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, in the Los Angeles Times

“Over the summer, I was part of a team at the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy that began looking at the history of absentee voting in California, expecting to find a story line of steadily increasing voter access. But after poring over voting data, legislative digests, news stories and other documents, we found that California took explicit steps throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries that kept many working-class and nonwhite citizens from voting.”

The nation’s history of voter suppression

Tyrone Howard, professor of education and director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA, on KABC-TV

“Voter suppression is something that we have an unfortunate, ugly history around. ... So, what I think about is things like the literacy tax that said that blacks had to show that they could answer certain questions. And some of these questions were just absolutely absurd, such as how many jelly beans are in a jar.”

Voter choice and the economy 

Lynn Vavreck, Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy, in the New York Times

“People’s views of the economy are always colored by party identification.”

COVID-19’s impact on the outcome

Vavreck in Bloomberg

“Covid changed everything about this election. It’s delusional to think that 2020 was about anything else.”

The Latino vote

Gary Segura, dean, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, on KQED’s “The California Report”

“I do think there's been a shift and the question is, why?” said Gary Segura, senior partner with Latino Decisions, a lead pollster for the survey. One reason for the shift was that Joe Biden was not as well known among Latino households as the Clinton family was, Segura said. But more importantly, Democrats didn’t do enough to engage these voters in California and other non-battleground states. “There was little outreach by the Democrats and the Biden campaign,” said Segura, dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. “And there's an important lesson here. I think the one place where President Trump did invest in Latinos is in South Florida, and he was rewarded for that. So investment matters, being on the ground matters.”

Sonja Diaz, founding director, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, on KPCC-FM’s “AirTalk”

“We need only look at the impact of the historic Latino voter impact in 2018 to get a sense of both participation this cycle, which was historic, both through early day and day-of voting. … We saw in 2018 that Latinos were decisive in a number of key races in L.A. County and Orange County, including those House districts with large Latino electorates that flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.” (Diaz’s segment begins at approx. 19:30.) 

Diaz on KTLA-TV

“Florida has always been tough. Its a tough contest. Its essential to any sort of Trump victory tonight. What we know is that the Trump campaign has extended a lot of resources. Theyve had targeted messaging to really pinpoint the different diversity among Floridas Latino community.

Matt Barreto, professor of political science and Chicana/o and Central American studies, on KPCC-FM’s “AirTalk”

“There has been absolute growth in the Latino vote, and it is being fueled by young people. Whether you’re talking about here in California or some of the other stuff that we have been seeing in Arizona, in Texas. There are absolute huge numbers. And that is going to continue.” (Barreto’s segment begins at approx. 88:40.) 

Barreto on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”

“Our polling found that it was going to be tight in these places, and that the Latino vote was going to be decisive. If you look at places like Florida, lets start there, lets not generalize for Miami-Dade County. Its only one county out of 3,000 counties across America. And the Latino vote overall was a good night for Vice President Biden. Vice President Biden won the Latino vote. There had been some changes over the last few years, but he won the Latino vote overwhelmingly, close to 70%. So that is going to prove decisive in states like Arizona.

“Covid changed everything about this election. It’s delusional to think that 2020 was about anything else.”

The Asian American vote

Paul Ong, research professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, on

While Biden performed well among Asian Americans, the data suggest that Trump didn’t lose support with the group, either. Paul Ong, a research professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, said he expected more movement away from Trump because of his use of xenophobic and discriminatory language to describe the pandemic, such as kung flu” and China virus.” Ong said that during the pandemic, anti-Asian sentiment across the country has contributed to both hate incidents as well as an unprecedented increase in Asian American unemployment and business closings. A UCLA report revealed that 83 percent of the Asian American labor force with high school degrees or lower has filed unemployment insurance claims in California, compared to 37 percent of the rest of the state’s labor force with the same level of education. 

How the Supreme Court may shape environmental protections

Ann Carlson, professor of law, in The Hill

“With the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, it doesn’t seem hyperbolic to predict that the Supreme Court will be the most anti-environmental court in the modern era. Yet we need environmental protection now more than ever: intense hurricanes have bashed the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts all summer and fall, raging fires have set records throughout the West Coast, the Midwest has experienced catastrophic flooding and much of the country faces historic drought conditions. And that's just in the U.S. Though Barrett’s record on environmental issues is sparse, there are several reasons to believe she will join with her conservative colleagues to roll back environmental protection and to restrict environmental group access to the courts.”