WSU News

WSU professor in Ireland thrust into election coverage

Matthew Sutton (second from right) on an election night panel hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.




PULLMAN, Wash – The U.S. presidential race has captured the attention of people around the world, especially in Europe. As millions of Americans head to the polls, foreign media have ramped up their coverage.


Washington State University’s Matthew Sutton has found himself at the center of this interest in American politics. An associate professor of history, Sutton is on a Fulbright scholarship in Ireland lecturing on American cultural, political and religious history at the University College Dublin.

What has attracted the media to Sutton is his background in writing about American politics.

In an interview on “RTE Morning Ireland,” Sutton was asked why the two presidential candidates seem to be avoiding the big issues rather than facing up to them in their campaigns.

“A lot of that is a reflection on where the media is right now,” said Sutton. “They have to condense their message into 30-second sound bites and, unfortunately, that has prevented them from having good, deep, intellectual discussions about the major issues that are driving the campaign or should be driving the campaign.”

Sutton received national media attention last summer for work on his forthcoming book, “American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse” (Harvard University Press). But in Ireland, reporters are eager to learn about the political landscape in America and whether either candidate can make a difference.

“I had no idea until I got here how deep the ties are between our countries,” Sutton said. “In addition, the Irish see American politics as a major spectator sport. They probably know more about what is happening than a lot of Americans.”

For instance, on the contentious issue of Democrats and Republicans working together in Washington to avoid gridlock, messages are mixed.

“Either candidate that works for true bipartisan unity, even as much as Americans say that’s what they want, will actually be punished by their constituencies,” Sutton said. “Right now, obstruction is what wins you points in the Senate and in Congress, and so it’s going to be hard for those senators and congressmen to work with the president, whichever one it is.

“So I don’t see things getting much better in the near term,” he said.

After the election, Sutton will appear on a panel sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ireland that will be nationally televised by Ireland’s “RTE News Now.” To hear Sutton’s interview with “RTE Morning Ireland” in its entirety, see the Fulbright website.