Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Winning Elections in the 21st Century

Winning Elections in the 21st Century

Winning Elections in the 21st Century is coauthored by political science professors Betty O'Shaughnessy and Dick Simpson. Both authors have been successful political candidates and have held key positions in numerous other campaigns. Their book enables readers to get under the hood of modern political campaigns and to learn how candidates and campaign teams use cell phones, computers, data analytics and social media to target, contact, and then persuade a winning number of individuals to join their campaigns, contribute needed funds, and then vote on election day. Professor O’Shaughnessy is a visiting lecturer at UIC and a social studies teacher at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL. In 2009, she won election to the West Deerfield Township Board (IL), where she served until 2013. Below, Professor O’Shaughnessy discusses how her experience at Loyola influenced her work in and outside academia.

What can you tell me about your experience at Loyola as History MA student? What was your area of concentration?

I was an MA student in Loyola’s History department from 1999 to 1995.  I took one course at a time, at night, since I was teaching high school full time and I got to take one course per semester for free.  My concentration was in American history, with minors in Modern Europe, and Britain and Ireland. Although I did not get to know many students very well, I still remember the individual attention I got from all my professors.  It was they who gave me the idea that I could actually continue my studies after getting a Masters degree, and I did so.

How has your time at Loyola shaped your career in teaching?

What I learned at Loyola changed how I taught both World and US History. I began to include more social history (e.g. how Irish immigrants lived in New York) and philosophical trends (such as how the Enlightenment formed the thinking of the Framers).  After earning an MA I was asked to teach AP courses and help write the history curriculum. The solid background in history I acquired also gave me better insights into how politics worked when I taught Political Science. A history background reveals that political truths are timeless, and I share that insight with students.

Your new book, Winning Elections in the 21st Century, coauthored with Dick Simpson, is quite timely. What do you hope readers will take away from it?

Dick Simpson asked me to coauthor this latest version of his classic Winning Elections and we both believe that engaging in politics is important. Our book explains how to use traditional campaigning methods and harness the new technology -- such as using data analytics and social media – even on a shoestring budget. We need to use these tools to elect the best possible candidates to public office and we need to reform our political system to keep our democracy healthy.  Young people especially should know it is not impossible to elect good candidates, and getting involved in their campaigns is important and worthwhile. We believe that as many people as possible should decide who our public officials are, rather than a select few.

Professors O’Shaughnessy and Simpson will both be at The Cliff Dwellers Arts Club, Thursday, April 14, to discuss their new book. Doors open for cocktails 5:30PM, dinner ($35 per person) will be served at 6:15PM with the presentation to follow. Please call 312-922-8080 or email reservations@cliff-chicago.org to make your reservation.

The 256-page book is available from the University Press of Kansas in hardback for $45.00 and in paperback for $22.95. It can be purchased through many on-line booksellers, at select bookstores, and from the University Press of Kansas at http:// kuecprd.ku.edu/~upress/cgi-bin/978-0-7006-2213-9.html.