Sabbatical Sojourns: Political Science with Tim Sherratt

This is the final article in a series featuring the research conducted by faculty members on sabbatical during the fall 2018 semester. A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the spring 2019 issue of STILLPOINT. Read more articles from this issue here:

“If all presidents have to learn on the job to a degree, how much does [holding a] prior office help or constrain that learning?” A professor of political science who specializes in American politics, Tim Sherratt used sabbatical to explore the natures of political offices and their respective implications on campaigning for presidency.

Sherratt compares, for example, Presidents Bill Clinton (a former governor) and Barack Obama (a former senator). “Was . . . Clinton better prepared for governing than . . . Obama, and if so, how much and with what consequences?” he asked. “Even if better preparation can be established, how influential was it alongside other factors influencing their respective presidencies?”

Sherratt’s research involved delving into the differences between senatorial and gubernatorial offices, how former senators and governors campaign for President, and how he or she will govern if successful. The traits Sherratt examined included presidents’ manner of pursuing policy goals, making appointments, taking advice, relating to Congress and party leaders and the public, and offering leadership.

In the long-term, Sherratt hopes to compile his findings into a second book. But in the meantime, he says, the research helps “improve my grasp of areas in which I teach,” Sherratt says. “American politics generally, and courses like Congress and the Presidency, Constitutional Law.”