Press Room

Communication Scholars Available to Discuss Democratic Presidential Candidate Race

June 5, 2019
Experts Available

The 2020 presidential campaign is heating up, with 23 candidates (as of now) vying to be the Democratic nominee. All of these candidates are hitting the road and airwaves, and they’re talking to voters on the ground and in town halls. The National Communication Association includes leading Communication scholars who specialize in political communication and presidential rhetoric. These experts are available for interviews throughout the 2020 campaign season to answer such questions as:

  • With so many candidates in the race, how can they differentiate their messages and stand apart from the crowded field?
  • How can candidates communicate effectively to a large number of voters in an increasingly polarized political environment?
  • Studies have shown that the press is not paying as much attention to the women and minority candidates in the race as it is to the white male candidates. How can these discrepancies be explained?
  • How will the formatting of this year’s Democratic debates influence the quality of the event? Will the format, with so many participants, help or hurt certain candidates?


Ryan Neville-Shepard, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Arkansas

Ryan Neville-Shepard's research focuses on modern political rhetoric and argumentation, with a special emphasis on presidential rhetoric. His recent work has examined third party presidential campaign discourse, political conspiracy theories, gender bias and female candidates, and political scandals. He earned his Ph.D. in Communication Studies, with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Political Communication, from the University of Kansas.

Charlton McIlwain, Ph.D.
Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication & Vice Provost for Faculty Engagement & Development, New York University

Charlton McIlwain’s recent work focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. Dr. McIlwain teaches classes in race & media and political communication. He is the author of Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter, a forthcoming book from Oxford University Press. He also co-authored, with Stephen Maynard Caliendo, the award-winning book, Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns (Temple University Press, 2011). Dr. McIlwain received his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Oklahoma.

Tammy R. Vigil, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication, Boston University

Tammy R. Vigil’s research interests include political campaigns, political rhetoric, persuasion, and women as political communicators. Dr. Vigil’s books include Moms in Chief: The Rhetoric of Republican Motherhood and the Spouses of Presidential Nominees, 1992-2016, and Connecting with Constituents: Identification Building and Blocking in Contemporary National Convention Addresses. She has also published journal articles and book chapters on the rhetoric of Michelle Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush, and on national nominating conventions.


To schedule an interview with any of these experts, please contact Sandra L. Rodriguez at or 202-534-1104.


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About the National Communication Association

The National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA supports inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom; NCA supports and promotes policies that fairly encourage this diversity and inclusion. 

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