January 15, 2015

Nick Rudnick received award from Georgia Political Science Association

Nicholas Rudnik, VSU political science major

VALDOSTA—Nicholas Rudnik, Valdosta State University political science major, recently received the Roger N. Pajari undergraduate paper award from the Georgia Political Science Association (GPSA).
Rudnik’s paper, titled “Away Down South in Dixie: White Voting Patterns and Biracial Coalitions in Southern U.S. House Elections,” examined how in the later part of the 20th century Southern voters shifted from predominately Democratic Party control to, quantitatively, a precarious two-party structure.
“I argue this is due to white voters largely bolting from the Democratic camp,” said Rudnik, a native of Thomasville, Ga. “So, I employ a statistical model to compare the south region to the remainder of the nation with regards to white voter preferences.”
Rudnik uses the hypothesis that white southern voters should differentiate themselves from the rest of the country by being more negatively correlated toward supporting Democratic candidates.
“In all, I found that while there is, indeed, a negative correlation between the percentage of white residents in a congressional district and the Democratic vote share from 2006 to 2010, that relationship is not more pronounced in the traditional and census south than the remainder of the country,” said Rudnik. “Thus the south is distinctive because it is the only region in the U.S. where we see consistent Republican Party growth; however, there is a case to be made that there are other factors at play, other than simple demographic changes and electoral preferences among the body politic.”
Rudnik conducted the research for his paper under the direction of Dr. James LaPlant, professor of political science and dean of the Graduate School.
“I was impressed that Nick conducted the research on his own as part of his passion for studying Southern politics. The paper was not part of a course or even an independent study,” said LaPlant, who nominated Rudnik for the GPSA award. “He is clearly conducting research at a graduate level as an undergraduate student.
While attending Valdosta State, Rudnik has been given the opportunity to present three papers at the GPSA annual meeting, as well as presented several research papers at VSU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
In addition to his research with LaPlant, Rudnik has published an article in the peer-reviewed journal “Questions in Politics,” co-authored a manuscript with Dr. Luke Fowler, assistant professor of political science, as well as worked on various papers with Dr. James Peterson, professor and head of the Political Science Department, and Dr. Marc Pufong, professor of political science.

“VSU is a great place for any prospective student who is interested in working under or with faculty during their undergraduate career,” said Rudnik, who is president of VSU’s Model Senate Club. “In short, if scholastic research is something you’re interested in—and with a great deal of hard work—VSU is a place where opportunities can, and will, abound.”
Rudnik is scheduled to graduate in May 2015 and plans to attend graduate school. His professional goals include working in higher education to teach and continue research in the area of political science and political sociology.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.
Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 
Nick Rudnik's academic presentation meets the following goals: 
Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.
Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.
Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.