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Faculty Website of Dr. J. Michael Bitzer

Professor of Politics & History


Welcome! I am currently a professor of politics and history, where I teach a number of courses in the fields of American politics, public administration & policy, and law. I have also taught in the College’s Honors Program, most recently a course entitled “States of Killing: Genocide in the 20th Century.”

Along with my teaching responsibilities, I serve a political analyst for several media sources and also as pre-law advisor. I also blog about North Carolina politics at

My educational background is reflective of my liberal arts education. I have an undergraduate degree in English, with a specialization in theater; a Master's degree in history, focusing on Southern political history, U.S. legal history, and the history of Nazi Germany; and a doctorate in political science with a focus in American politics, public law, and public administration. My thesis and dissertation were entitled:

  • Master's thesis: Reshaping Palmetto Politics: A Case Study of the Grass-roots Rise and Strategy of the Republican Party in South Carolina, 1960-1968
  • Dissertation: Deciding to Delegate: Legislative Professionalism and Statutory Delegation to Bureaucratic Agencies in State Governments

In addition to these research projects, my research has focused on a number of areas. Most recently I have been published in two books on North Carolina politics: “The New Politics of the Old South” and “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be: The 2016 Presidential Election in the South,” both co-authored with Dr. Charles Prysby of UNC-Greensboro. I have also published an article, "In North Carolina, It's Not Election Day--It's Election Month: An Analysis of the 2008 Election," in American Review of Politics. This research combines an interest in the impact of location in a state (urban, suburban, and rural precincts) as well as the impact of early voting in the Tar Heel state. You can find a copy of the paper here.

In another area of research interest, I have written a chapter in an edited book, Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics Through the Lense of Popular Culture, (now in its second edition) published by the University of Kentucky Press in 2008. The chapter is on "Political Culture and Public Opinion: The American Dream on Springfield's Evergreen Terrace," in which I use the long-running television series The Simpsons to explore and explain ideas such as political culture, public opinion, and the notion of an American Dream in our society.

I have also contributed to the following works:

The Executive Branch of State Government
Encyclopedia of Public Administration & Policy

The Executive Branch of State Government:
People, Process, and Politics

Ed. by Margaret Ferguson.
New York: ABC-Clio, Inc., 2006.

The Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy
Ed. by David Schultz.
New York: Facts on File, 2003.

Federalism in America

Encyclopedia of Supreme Court

Federalism in America:An Encyclopedia
Ed. by Joseph r. Marbach,
Ellis Katz, and Troy E. Smith.
New York: Greenwood Press, 2005.

The Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court Ed. by David Schultz.
New York: Facts on File, 2005.

Encyclopedia of American Political Parties & Elections

Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties in America

The Encyclopedia of American
Political Parties & Elections

Ed. by Larry J. Sabato and
Howard R. Ernst.
New York: Facts on File, 2006.
The Encyclopedia of
Civil Liberties in America

Ed. by David Schultz and
John R. Vile.
New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.

Homer Simpson Goes to Washington

Book Chapter on "Political Culture and Public Opinion:
The American Dream on Evergreen Terrace,"
by J. Michael Bitzer


My current research is on the voting behavior of North Carolina's urban, suburban, and rural areas, where I have presented papers on "When Fifteen Equals Fifty: An Analysis of Urban and Suburban Voting Patterns in North Carolina in the 2004 Election" and "It's Not Election Day, It's Election Month in North Carolina: An Analysis of Urban, Suburban and Rural Voting Patterns in Early and Election Day Voting in 2008." I have continued this research on North Carolina’s politics, especially voters and voting patterns in the state.

I have also presented research papers, as well as served as chair and discussant, at a number of conferences, including at American Political Science Association, the Southern Political Science Association, the Southeastern Conference on Public Administration, the North Carolina Political Science Association, and the Citadel Symposium on Southern Politics

In my "free" time, I've also had fun being a "political analyst" for several Charlotte TV stations, including WSOC (Channel 9--ABC), WBTV (Channel 3--CBS), WCCB (Channel 18--Fox), and News-14 Charlotte, along with WFAE (NPR Charlotte--90.7). In addition, I've been interviewed by such papers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Salisbury Post, as well as WBHM, Birmingham's (AL) NPR station. I've written guest column pieces for The Charlotte Observer and The Salisbury Post.

While teaching, research, and public service are major foci of my work, I've also been active on the Catawba campus, most notably serving on Faculty Senate (for two years as Secretary), the Admissions Committee, and the Assessment, Planning, and Budgeting Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and current serve as co-chair of the Academic Policies and Standards Committee. Previously, I served as provost of the college and the interim dean of students.

In addition, I have facilitated several Graduate School Forums with other faculty members to share information about graduate school (both admissions & the environment of graduate school) with Catawba students, as well as community forums on elections, environmental politics, Hurricane Katrina, and the 5th Anniversary of 9/11. For the community, I have moderated several Candidate Forums for candidates seeking public office at both the local and state level, as well as facilitated several Candidate Academies, which seek to educate and inform citizens about public office and campaigning. These forums and academies are held in conjunction with The Salisbury Post and the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.


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