Category: Political Science

Hey! Here’s what to do when you have two or more surveys on the same population!

This problem comes up a lot: We have multiple surveys of the same population and we want a single inference. The usual approach, applied carefully by news organizations such as Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight, and applied sloppily by various attention-seeking pundits every two or four years, is “poll aggregation”: you take the […]

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2018: Who actually voted? (The real story, not the exit polls.)

Continuing from our earlier discussion . . . Yair posted some results from his MRP analysis of voter turnout: 1. The 2018 electorate was younger than in 2014, though not as young as exit polls suggest. 2. The 2018 electorate was also more diverse, with African American and Latinx communities surpassing their share of votes […]

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2018: What really happened?

We’re always discussing election results on three levels: their direct political consequences, their implications for future politics, and what we can infer about public opinion. In 2018 the Democrats broadened their geographic base, as we can see in this graph from Yair Ghitza: Party balancing At the national level, what happened is what we expected […]

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“We are reluctant to engage in post hoc speculation about this unexpected result, but it does not clearly support our hypothesis”

Brendan Nyhan and Thomas Zeitzoff write: The results do not provide clear support for the lack-of control hypothesis. Self-reported feelings of low and high control are positively associated with conspiracy belief in observational data (model 1; p

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My two talks in Austria next week, on two of your favorite topics!

Innsbruck, 7 Nov 2018: The study of American politics as a window into understanding uncertainty in science We begin by discussing recent American elections in the context of political polarization, and we consider similarities and differences with European politics. We then discuss statistical challenges in the measurement of public opinion: inference from opinion polls with […]

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“What Happened Next Tuesday: A New Way To Understand Election Results”

Yair just published a long post explaining (a) how he and his colleagues use Mister P and the voter file to get fine-grained geographic and demographic estimates of voter turnout and vote preference, and (b) why this makes a difference. The relevant research paper is here. As Yair says in his above-linked post, he and […]

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“2010: What happened?” in light of 2018

Back in November 2010 I wrote an article that I still like, attempting to answer the question: “How could the voters have swung so much in two years? And, why didn’t Obama give Americans a better sense of his long-term economic plan in 2009, back when he still had a political mandate?” My focus was […]

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What does it mean to talk about a “1 in 600 year drought”?

Patrick Atwater writes: Curious to your thoughts on a bit of a statistical and philosophical quandary. We often make statements like this drought was a 1 in 400 year event but what do we really mean when we say that? In California for example there was an oft repeated line that the recent historic drought was […]

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David Brooks discovers Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State!

The New York Times columnist writes: Our political conflict is primarily a rich, white civil war. It’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives. You could say that tribalism is the fruit of privilege. People with more stresses in their lives necessarily pay less attention to politics. . . . I’ve had some differences with Brooks […]

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The Golden Rule of Nudge

Nudge unto others as you would have them nudge unto you. Do not recommend to apply incentives to others that you would not want for yourself. Background I was reading this article by William Davies about Britain’s Kafkaesque immigration policies. The background, roughly, is this: Various English politicians promised that the net flow of immigrants […]

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Rising test scores . . . reported as stagnant test scores

Joseph Delaney points to a post by Kevin Drum pointing to a post by Bob Somerby pointing to a magazine article by Natalie Wexler that reported on the latest NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test results. In an article entitled, “Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years,” Wexler asks, “what’s […]

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Strategic choice of where to vote in November

Darcy Kelley sends along a link to this site, Make My Vote Matter, in which you can enter two different addresses where you might vote, and it will tell you in which (if any) of these addresses has elections that are predicted to be close. The site is aimed at students; according to the site, […]

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David Weakliem points out that both economic and cultural issues can be more or less “moralized.”

David Weakliem writes: Thomas Edsall has a piece in which he cites a variety of work saying that Democratic and Republican voters are increasingly divided by values. He’s particularly concerned with “authoritarianism,” which is an interesting issue, but one I’ll save for another post. What I want to talk about here is the idea that […]

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Bob Erikson on the 2018 Midterms

A couple months ago I wrote about party balancing in the midterm elections and pointed to the work of Joe Bafumi, Bob Erikson, and Chris Wlezien. Erikson recently sent me this note on the upcoming midterm elections: Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency has sparked far more than the usual interest in the next midterm elections as […]

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What do you do when someone says, “The quote is, this is the exact quote”—and then misquotes you?

Ezra Klein, editor of the news/opinion website Vox, reports on a recent debate that sits in the center of the Venn diagram of science, journalism, and politics: Sam Harris, host of the Waking Up podcast, and I [Klein] have been going back and forth over an interview Harris did with The Bell Curve author Charles […]

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