The Niskanen Center’s The Science of Politics podcast features up-and-coming researchers delivering fresh insights on the big trends driving American politics today. Get beyond punditry to data-driven understanding of today’s Washington with host and political scientist Matt Grossmann. Each 30-45-minute episode covers two new cutting-edge studies and interviews two researchers.
Compromise Still Works in Congress and with Voters
2021 will feature closely divided Congress and a new president. Will Congress compromise to get anything done? Frances Lee finds that majority parties in Congress still achieve about half their agenda—no more or less than usual. When they fail, it’s just as likely due to intra-party conflict than to the opposition party. And when they succeed, it’s almost always from backing down on the most controversial elements or pursuing uncontroversial compromises. Jennifer Wolak finds that voters still like compromise and reward politicians who compromise, both in principle and in practice. By clarifying our differences, the campaign actually alerts voters that we don’t all agree and need to compromise. A lot of policymaking voters like is still happening, but it gets less media attention because it’s not a partisan war.
Photo by Julio Obscura under CC by 2.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Interpreting the Early Results of the 2020 Election with G. Elliott Morris
What can the 2020 election teach us about polling and politics? On the afternoon after Election Day, Matt Grossmann hosts the first-ever live edition of the Science of Politics podcast with G. Elliott Morris, data journalist at The Economist to discuss where exactly the models went wrong (and what they got right). Together, they review early results, compare them to the polls and models, and start thinking about how the results should revise our theories and models of American voting and elections.
Photo credit: Screenshot from the
How Court Nominations Polarize Interest Groups and Voters
Interest groups on both sides were ready for battle when President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barret to the Supreme Court. As Republicans vote to confirm her, how will voters respond? Jonathan Kastellec finds that interest groups have polarized the debate: starting earlier in nomination battles, with groups now fighting over nominee ideology rather than qualifications. Alex Badas finds that Supreme Court nominations have become a voting issue, but that Republican voters still prioritize them more.
Why Do Americans Accept Democratic Backsliding?
As Election Day approaches, Trump intimidation efforts are increasing and Americans in both parties are worried that the other side could use unfair tactics to sway the election. Why does the public fail to serve as a check on anti-democratic practices? Matt Graham finds that only a small fraction of voters prioritize democratic principles over partisan and ideological interests. And by increasing ideological differences, polarization has hurt democracy’s valuation. Larry Bartels finds that large numbers of Republicans countenance anti-democratic moves. And it’s not based on their support for Trump, but their broader ethnic antagonism. They both say we should worry about American democratic backsliding among elites because public support for democracy won't save us.
Photo Credit: Donald Trump / Public domain
Racial Protest, Violence, and Backlash
Racial Protest, Violence, and Backlash by Niskanen Center
How Rich White Residents and Interest Groups Rule Local Politics
National politics gets all the attention, but many important decisions--from police reform to housing development to tackling inequality--are made by local governments. Which voices are heard in local decision-making? Jesse Rhodes finds that local elected officials are ideologically much closer to White residents in their communities than Black or Latino residents and more conservative than the people they represent. Sarah Anzia finds that organized groups like police unions and local chambers of commerce influence local policy across the board. They both say that local policy choices follow the loudest voices of the repeat participators.