Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Authoritarian Government Watch – Update

May 11th, 2017, 7:53pm by Sam Wang

On January 28th, I came up with 10 events that, if they happened, would constitute evidence of an authoritarian government. Now it’s the fourth month. As the Administration becomes engulfed by the growing Russia scandal and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself, how are they coming along on the authoritarian front?

Actually…not that bad. [

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What Makes A Presidential Transition Successful?

May 6th, 2017, 8:33am by Sam Wang

On Politics & Polls, Julian and I talk with Chris Lu, director of Barack Obama’s presidential transition team in 2008, and Deputy Secretary of Labor. We talk about both subjects. We got into depth about what makes a transition succeed (Obama) or flounder (Clinton, Trump). Listen to Politics & Polls #42.

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How much difference does partisan gerrymandering make?

May 5th, 2017, 2:58pm by Sam Wang

Today in the Los Angeles Times, Brian Remlinger and I explain partisan gerrymandering, and how many seats it may be worth. Based on our analysis, more seats are affected by partisan gerrymandering now than at any point in the last five cycles of redistricting. In 2017, over 70 seats are made uncompetitive, favoring both parties. The net effect is a change in the margin of about 15 Congressional seats, in a direction favoring Republicans. Considering that the outcome of Affordable Care Act repeal yesterday in the House was decided by 4 votes, the advantage from gerrymandering is highly consequential.

We also review what the Supreme Court could do in the coming term to limit partisan gerrymandering. Two cases are coming before them, from Wisconsin and from North Carolina. Here at Princeton we are developing standards and a framework for the Court’s use. Read about in the Stanford Law Review and check out our website, If you’re interested, perhaps join the effort!

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Politics & Polls: The First 100 Days

April 28th, 2017, 4:08pm by Sam Wang

Historian Meg Jacobs, Julian, and I chew over how Trump’s first 100 days. Listen to my reaction to Jacobs’s assertion that Trump is off to a strong start. If spit-up coffee could get through speakers, you would be well coated.

In seriousness, my own view is that Trump has weakened the presidency through ineffectiveness at pushing policy goals with Congress, getting multiple executive orders turned back by the judiciary, and making utterances that are increasingly seen as being without force. Kind of like Franklin D. Roosevelt in reverse.

Link: Politics And Polls #41

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Politics & Polls w/Congressman Leonard Lance

April 24th, 2017, 5:54am by Sam Wang

Representative Leonard Lance has been in the crosshairs of activists. His Congressional district went narrowly for Clinton over Trump, and before going to Washington he had a reputation as a moderate. I interviewed Congressman Lance solo (Julian’s overseas). In our far-ranging conversation, we talked about many topics: the Affordable Care Act (he’s in favor of continuing payments to insurers; this is a fairly big deal in my opinion), Russian interference, legislation to sell your browsing habits to your ISP, and Lance’s own transition from NJ to DC.

Link: Politics And Polls #40

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General Petraeus: “This is fine”?

April 13th, 2017, 4:15pm by Sam Wang

For Politics & Polls #39, we were joined by Woodrow Wilson alumnus General David Petraeus. Is the “deep state” a sinister conspiracy, or an institution that prevents insane policies? As Trump brings Syria, North Korea, and Afghanistan to a boil, is it good or bad to have ex-military serve at the highest levels of government? According to Petraeus, maybe…

Link: Politics And Polls #39

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Politics & Polls #38: Sarah Kendzior on Trump/Russia

April 9th, 2017, 1:52pm by Sam Wang

Sarah Kendzior was among the first writers to point out Trump’s likely rise, and to trace it to white anger in “flyover country,” a term she gets to use because she lives in Missouri. She writes for the Toronto Globe & Mail, and has a lot to say about the Trump/Russia connection. It was a particularly lively interview.

Link: Politics And Polls #38

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Post-November Optimism Crashes After Failure of ACA Repeal

April 4th, 2017, 5:03pm by Sam Wang

Light posting these last few months. Spring term is busy. But hey, there’s always the podcast, which is not bad.

Today I post this somewhat underappreciated survey quantity, the right-track/wrong-track question. It asks whether respondents think the United States is on the right track or wrong track.

This survey has been in consistently negative territory for a long time, but there are three notable breaks in that trend.

  1. The “wrong track” number started trending down slowly in early November, right around Election Day.
  2. The “right track number started moving up in January, around the time of the inauguration.
  3. Both trends reversed around the second week of March (see the vertical line).

It’s hard to pin exact dates on the transitions because it depends on the details of the Huffington Post’s smoothing and graphing rules. In fact, the vertical line above is set at March 7th…but that point on the graph could include survey data from later dates. I need to look into that.

The graph is approximately consistent with shifts in the national mood associated with Trump’s win and inauguration – followed by the bursting of a bubble in mid-March. What caused that break in the trend? One possibility is the death spiral of the American Health Care Act (i.e. Affordable Care Act repeal), which reached an end on March 24th. Certainly the writing was on the wall for at least a week. Or it could be something else. Whatever the case, it appears that any net optimism triggered by Trump’s win has almost completely dissipated.

Update: the cause was almost certainly the failure of ACA repeal. Paul Ryan’s approve/disapprove numbers took a sharp turn at just about the same time.

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Politics & Polls #37: a chat with Robert Costa

March 30th, 2017, 10:06am by Sam Wang

Julian Zelizer and I interviewed Robert Costa, political reporter for the Washington Post. Costa’s been covering national politics for many years. Last Friday, he was the first person that Donald Trump called to talk about the cancellation of the vote on Affordable Care Act repeal. We got into what it was like to get the call, and also lots of other topics, including the coming budget battle and whether Neil Gorsuch will make it onto the Supreme Court.

Link: Politics And Polls #37

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Politics & Polls #36: Science, Politics, and the War on Knowledge

March 23rd, 2017, 4:41pm by Sam Wang

A President who denies that CO2 causes climate change, and who believes the falsehood that vaccines cause autism. A climate change denier at the Environmental Protection Agency. No national science adviser. And deep cuts are proposed to the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and other research programs. What’s going on?

Julian Zelizer and I interviewed Rush Holt. Holt is a former plasma physicist, a former Congressman…and a five-time Jeopardy winner. So he is well-equipped to talk about facts and science. Now he’s CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a premier scientific society in the United States. He had a lot to say about what I call the War on Knowledge.

Link: Politics And Polls #36

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