University of South Florida


USF Students and Faculty Head to Iowa to Study 2020 Caucuses

An American flag photo

Five University of South Florida students from communication, mass communication and political science disciplines will travel to Iowa next week to participate in a unique field research experience ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

Led by Dr. Joshua Scacco, an assistant professor in the USF Department of Communication, the interdisciplinary research team will land in Des Moines on Jan. 31 and remain in Iowa until Feb. 4.  The group will survey prospective caucus participants to help gauge public attitudes about the candidates running for president, observe the caucus process and examine media coverage of the candidates.

Scacco has helped USF forge partnerships with the University of Alabama, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, Emerson College and Iowa State University to deliver a collaborative, hands-on project for students.  He started a similar effort four years ago at a different university.  His research focuses on how emerging communication technologies influence established agents in American political life, including news organizations and the presidency.

“This intensive field research experience brings the promise and messiness of the American political process directly to our students,” Scacco said. “Students on the research team will gain invaluable research skills and experiences as they observe the kickoff of the 2020 presidential election season. USF and our research partners are showing commitments to engaged scholarship and student success in leading this one-of-a-kind effort.”

Students on the USF team are learning research skills such as survey questionnaire design, participant recruitment and data analysis techniques to explore critical issues in political campaign communication. The program is designed to deliver high-impact learning opportunities to undergraduate students interested in government, public policy, communication and media and political research.

Known as the Campaigns & Elections Field Research Project, the initiative receives support and intends to elevate the efforts of the USF College of Arts & Sciences, Judy Genshaft Honors College, ResearchOne, Department of Communication, Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies and John Scott Dailey Florida Institute for Government.  

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