Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen?
In each episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield takes a deep look at the people who are trying to change the world, chronicling their successes but also exploring the limits of change. The primary subject areas are politics, sociology, technology, and business.
Theory of Change #11: Pat Bagley on politics, Mormonism, and Utah
Pat Bagley has become a fixture in Utah politics and one of America's best-known editorial cartoonists. In this episode of Theory of Change, he joins Matthew Sheffield to discuss American politics, the changing face of the moderate-dominated Republican Party he once knew, and how the LDS Mormon religion has changed during his lifetime.
Theory of Change #10: Misogyny, the Christian Right, and Brandi Love (Featuring Robyn Pennacchia)
Among American conservatives who came of age in the 20th century, Christian fundamentalism seems to serve as the unifying force. But among younger Republicans, is opposition to feminism what keeps the coalition together?
Matthew Sheffield is joined in this episode by Robyn Pennacchia, a writer at Wonkette.com who has been covering the online misogyny space since 2012.
Robyn's Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobynElyse
Matthew's Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattsheffield
Show website: https://theoryofchange.show/
Theory of Change #9: What happened to American media? (Featuring Parker Molloy)
A huge part of why American politics is so messed up today is the country's for-profit media ecosystem that prioritizes controversy, eschews policy discussions, and has no understanding of how important Christian fundamentalism is to conservative ideologues.
In the first video stream episode of Theory of Change, Matthew Sheffield speaks with Parker Molloy, founder of The Present Age about how bad things are and how it happened.
Parker Molloy is an independent writer and podcaster who previously wrote at the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters.
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/parkermolloy
Video version of this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FMmKJqzqyA
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Theory of Change #6: Editorial cartoons in the age of the meme (Nick Anderson and Nate Beeler)
The internet and the explosion of free political content that it created has had a dramatic effect on the media industry.
One sector of journalism that’s been particularly harmed in recent years is editorial cartooning. Ten years ago, most major-city daily newspapers employed artists to draw their takes on the news of the day. Now, however, the ranks of editorial cartoonists have shrunk drastically.
That’s why several of America’s top editorial cartoonists have joined together to form their own media outlet called Counterpoint.com dedicated solely to gathering high-quality artists from both sides of the political spectrum and presenting their work to the public.
In this episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield is joined by Nick Anderson, one of Counterpoint’s co-founders who formerly worked at the Houston Chronicle. He's also joined by Nate Beeler, a veteran cartoonist who draws at Counterpoint after previously working at the Columbus Dispatch.
During the conversation, they talk about Counterpoint, the newspaper industry, and cartooning during the age of the internet meme.
The two artists also discuss why cartoonists expressing their opinions seem to face more anger from political opponents than people who write or speak their opinions.
Theory of Change #5: Can we trust opinion polls? (With Courtney Kennedy of the Pew Research Center)
If you read, listen or watch the news today it’s impossible to avoid public opinion polls. They are literally everywhere. The president’s approval rating, what people think about impeachment, even what the best fast food restaurant is.
But as omnipresent as opinion surveys are, a lot of the math and science that goes into them is relatively unknown to many people. There are also a lot of questions about how polls work and how they should work. Why do most polls include more Democrats than Republicans? Do political “independents” actually exist?
There are also a lot of misunderstandings about opinion surveys. Many people, think that they got the 2016 presidential election wrong. But that’s not quite true. In fact, the national polls did a pretty good job of predicting what the vote would be. But some of the state polls, did get it wrong, and the Constitution awards the presidency to the candidate with the most Electoral College votes—not the popular vote.
To get to the bottom of these issues, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield spoke with Courtney Kennedy, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. In the conversation, Kennedy talks at length about the profusion of survey research companies and the rise of polling aggregation operations like those at the FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics, and the New York Times.
While she is skeptical about some pollsters’ practices, she also wonders whether it make sense to lump low-quality polls with those from organizations with much stricter standards.
She also warns that trying to create election forecasts that assign a candidate’s percentage chance of winning based on polls may actually suppress voter turnout.
Kennedy also discuss how polling operations have had to change how they conduct research in light of the rise of spam phone calls. One surprising change that the Pew Research Center has made is to go old-school by recruiting poll respondents via letters in their mailboxes.
Theory of Change #4: Has Trump really changed the GOP all that much?
There’s been a lot of commentary about how Donald Trump is changing the Republican Party. There’s even a cottage industry of former Republicans who often write about how Trump has ruined the GOP they once knew and loved.
But according to Bruce Bartlett, a former senior White House economic adviser to President Bush 41, most of what today’s Trump skeptics point to as something new in the party was there long ago. Bartlett had a falling out with the GOP in the early 2000s when he realized that its leaders were not interested in the fiscal conservatism that they promised on the campaign trail.
That took him on a long road, one which led to him becoming a progressive. In this episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield talks with Bartlett about his ideological journey and also his thoughts on today’s political situation.
According to the former libertarian economist, Democrats don’t take politics seriously enough to invest in the political infrastructure that conservatives spent decades building up. The net effect is that American politics continues drifting rightward, even though most Americans do not actually support cutting the government.
Awesome podcast on public opinion!
Super interesting topics with great guests!
Keep it up!