Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Politics & Polls #35: Intellectual Foundations of the Trumpist Movement

March 19th, 2017, 3:32pm by Sam Wang

In the summer of 2015, Julius Krein started an online blog called the Journal of American Greatness. A bit tongue-in-cheek at the time, it has morphed into something more serious: a journal called American Affairs. Julian Zelizer and I find out from Krein what he thinks are the defensible intellectual pillars of Trumpism. Amazingly, one of them rhymes with “Shmocialized Schmedicine.” Listen!


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Arnold Schwarzenegger breaks down gerrymandering

February 22nd, 2017, 10:56am by Sam Wang

Schwarzenegger gives an amusing and substantively sound take on gerrymandering:

His solution is a citizens’ commission to take redistricting out of the hands of legislators. As I have analyzed (see page 1296), the California Redistricting Commission has done a good job of creating competitive races where none existed before.

A commission-based approach has the advantage that it can potentially address a wide variety of offenses: partisan gerrymanders, uncompetitive districts, and racial packing. The key is to write the law with care. For example, in combating partisan gerrymandering, specifying compact districts is not as useful as it sounds unless partisan symmetry is also included as a criterion.

Another approach is to go through the courts. In this domain, an important issue is partisan gerrymandering, where levels of representation are distorted. Cases in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland are percolating through the courts, with at least one of those cases (Wisconsin) likely to hit the Supreme Court in the fall.

If you’re interested in this topic, next Thursday and Friday there’s a major conference on partisan redistricting, at Duke University. If you’re in the area, register and attend!

→ 4 CommentsTags: governors · Redistricting · U.S. Institutions

A New Project on Partisan Gerrymandering

January 17th, 2017, 9:09am by Sam Wang

This is a big year for partisan gerrymandering. Recently, star litigator Paul M. Smith has cleared the decks for voting-rights cases in the courts. That’s just one move of many that assures that voting rights will be in the spotlight in the coming Supreme Court term.

The effects of partisan gerrymandering are plain in the graph above. Up until and including the election of 2010, seats the U.S. House were related to the national vote as indicated by the shaded gray zone. The redistricting of 2010 led to a jump of about a dozen seats away from recent historical trends. The suddenness of this change, along with my statistical analysis (Stanford Law Review) reveals how this jump arose from partisan redistricting efforts in a handful of states. The jump comes from the fact that more advantage was gained by one side (NC, PA, OH, MI, VA) than the other (IL, MD). This net change can vary by decade, and depends on who controls the legislative process.

Today, I am pleased to announce that starting in 2017, I will take my work on partisan gerrymandering to a new level. I am now looking for full-time help for the next one to two years. [Read more →]

→ 24 CommentsTags: Redistricting

Politics & Polls #34: How (Ab)normal is the Trump presidency?

March 9th, 2017, 10:08am by Sam Wang

We’re almost halfway through Trump’s first 100 days in office. There’s been a lot of heat, noise – and executive orders. But not legislation. Is this abnormal? Or is it par for the course? Julian Zelizer and I drill into these questions, inspired by a recent article in The Upshot. Listen!


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Politics & Polls #33: Trade in a Trumpian World

March 7th, 2017, 2:28am by Sam Wang

Julian Zelizer and I Sam Wang interviewed Michael Froman. Ambassador Froman served in President Obama’s cabinet as the U.S. Trade Representative from June 2013 to January 2017. We had a vivid discussion about what trade agreements do – and don’t – accomplish. In what was probably my favorite moment in the interview, he held up his smartphone (you can’t see it of course) and said that without free trade, the phone would cost $2,500.

Such a vivid argument was missing during the 2016 Presidential campaign. But you get to hear it on Politics and Polls!


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Homeland Security Memo on Actual Sources of Terrorism

February 26th, 2017, 7:02am by Sam Wang

The memo is here. Based on analysis of actual identified threats and incidents relevant to the U.S., the top seven nations are Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. Although all but two (Cuba and Ethiopia) are predominantly-Muslim countries, there is not much overlap with the countries named in the Muslim travel ban. For instance, Iran and Syria are not on this list.

→ 1 CommentTags: 2014 Election

Politics & Polls #32: Israel and Palestine

February 23rd, 2017, 8:28pm by Sam Wang

Almost every U.S. president has struggled to broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. A two-state solution was already looking fleeting. What can we expect to see from President Donald Trump? In Politics & Polls, George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, joined Julian Zelizer and me to take a hard look at Israel policy…and its baroque domestic politics.


(P.S. don’t ask me what happened to Episode #31 – I think we’re releasing them a little out of order!)

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Coding for Journalists

February 22nd, 2017, 11:27pm by Sam Wang

A crash course in Python for journalists who wish to scrape data. Intriguing!

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Politics & Polls #30

February 10th, 2017, 2:31pm by Sam Wang

A federal appeals court has blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order issuing an immigration ban barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Trump also has made moves toward building a border wall with Mexico, which recent figures suggest may cost an estimated $21 billion.

To get into what these moves would actually accomplish, Julian Zelizer and I took a deep dive into immigration and border control with Doug Massey, one of the country’s leading experts in this field. Massey busted many myths, including the question of whether the effect of a border wall is to keep people out of the United States – or cage them inside.


Bonus: Doug Massey has made a cool appearance on Adam Ruins Everything to explain these points. Scroll to 3:20. Doug is hilarious.

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Awesome telling of the story of 2016

February 8th, 2017, 8:32pm by Sam Wang

A splendid telling of the story of 2016, by Mike Davis at Jacobin. Davis weaves together unbreakable party loyalty, evangelicals, redistricting and gerrymandering, and the hostile takeover of the Republicans into a coherent tale. I don’t know of a better telling of where we went – and where we may go next.

To be continued.

→ 12 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

Live feed of Ninth Circuit – Muslim ban case

February 7th, 2017, 7:04pm by Sam Wang

Oral arguments here. Liveblogging at the New York Times suggests that at least two of the three judges on the panel lean toward keeping the ban suspended for now. Whatever happens, the court will consider the ban’s merits later.

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