Associate Professor of Political Science, Assistant Dean of Pamplin College
Augusta, GA, US
Dr. Martha Ginn is a political expert on the judicial process, constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Washington Post
Many news consumers know by now to take any single election-year poll with a grain of salt. Because of sampling variation and the vagaries of survey research, the best approach is to focus not on individual polls but on polling averages. Our research suggests yet another reason not to overreact to news stories about the newest poll: Media outlets tend to cover the surveys with the most “newsworthy” results, which can distort the picture of where the race stands...view more
The Atlantic online
“I think a lot of the current political dynamic has to do with the composition of the court,” said Martha Ginn, a political science professor at Augusta University, who studies public opinion of the judiciary. “If it had been [liberal Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg who had died, that might have provoked stronger opposition from Democratic voters to the potential confirmation of a conservative judge than what you’re seeing now.”view more
Oxford University Press's Academic Insights blog online
The perceived failures of election forecasting in 2016 have caused many to suggest the polls are broken. However, scholars are quick to point out that more than polling failure this election has demonstrated that people have a hard time thinking probabilistically about election outcomes. Our research suggests skewed media coverage of polls may also be to blame: News media are likely to cover the most newsworthy polls, distorting viewers’ perception of the race.view more
Those results are based on polls that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News covered between June 4, 2008—the date Clinton left the 2008 Democratic primary race—and November 8, 2008. Searles, Martha Humphries Ginn, and Jonathan Nickens compared that coverage with much more inclusive polling databases from PollingReport and Pollster, with an eye toward how polls that got coverage differ from those that didn’t.view more
Televised election coverage is increasingly dominated by the horse race, a key element of which is poll coverage. How do news outlets decide which poll to air? We know little about the gatekeeping function of news outlets as it pertains to poll coverage, perhaps because this research is plagued by selection bias: By observing only reported polls and not unreported polls, researchers cannot definitively establish that any differences in representativeness are due to bias...
Building on the geographic constituency theory of awareness of Supreme Court decisions, we conducted a panel survey in Cleveland, Ohio before and after Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which upheld state-funded vouchers in religious schools. We found several characteristics predict awareness: news consumption, income, and knowledge of and positive feelings toward the Court. Our results also showed those vested in the outcome, such as African Americans, religious individuals, and parents were more likely to change their attitudes in favor of the decision and become more positive toward the institution...
There is a debate in Political Science concerning how best to teach American Government courses. We investigate whether students learn more effectively with texts from the great tradition or from textbooks and other secondary sources. Which medium better guides students toward becoming better citizens? We examine how teaching “The Great Tradition” may increase success in student-learning outcomes. We examine four categories of learning outcomes in the Introduction to American Government classroom: general knowledge, ...
Focusing on litigators or amicus curiae, a significant amount of scholarship has examined the impact of information on Supreme Court decision making. Taking into account that justices have varying degrees of substantive expertise across issues, we model the interaction of justice expertise with these external sources of information. Specifically, we test whether justices are more likely to be influenced by attorney capability in cases where they have less substantive legal expertise. We also explore whether justices' reliance on ...
Some political scientists maintain that Supreme Court justices are more likely than other appellate court judges to vote their ideological preferences. It is argued that Supreme Court justices may vote their preferences without constraint from precedent because of a lack of electoral or political accountability, absence of ambition for higher office, and status as a member of a court of last resort that controls its own docket. While this explanation of attitudinal voting is widely accepted, it has never been tested. As a first test of the asserted ...