The Monkey Cage

We are professors of political science.

Mitt Romney’s Tax Problem

Over at Model Politics, Lynn Vavreck, Josh, and I have a new post on Mitt Romney’s tax problem. The problem for Romney, we argue, is that many Americans think he doesn’t pay his fair share. And when we actually told respondents Romney’s tax rate, those who thought he doesn’t pay his fair share became more likely to say that he doesn’t care about “people like me.” See the post for more explanation and several other findings.

Brat Pack 2012

From official Monkey Cage Cartoonist Ted McCagg :

Wait, Is the Party Elite for Gingrich Now?

Mark Blumenthal brings an important piece of information to the debate over whether this most recent Gingrich surge means that the party leaders don’t much influence presidential nominations: Gingrich succeeded in South Carolina, however, not by creating a new paradigm, but rather by succeeding on some the very mechanisms identified as critical by The Party Decides : First, Gingrich’s stunning surge at the end of the South Carolina campaign was driven in party by two important endorsements. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and threw his support to Gingrich, and Sarah Palin , though withholding a formal endorsement, urged South Carolina Republican to “vote for Newt” in order to “keep this thing going.” Second, though Gingrich may still trail Romney in elite endorsements nationwide, he appeared to have the upper hand among local elected officials and activists in South Carolina . The Huffington Post/Patch Power Outsiders survey found that as the race came to a close, 44 percent of the...

The State of the Union Won't Be a Game Changer

In case anyone gets a case of SOTU fever, I’ll link again to Brendan Nyhan’s post and my post from before last year’s SOTU on what effects the speech might have. In short: few.

Romney's Saving Grace: Boyish Charm Sells

As I have before , I want to flag YouGov’s Model Politics blog for readers. There is and will be a lot of fresh content there, written by political scientists with fresh survey data from YouGov. Here are two recent posts of note The first is from Gabriel Lenz . He ran an experiment in which participants to choose between pairs of Republican presidential candidates. Half the participants were randomly assigned to see pictures of the two candidates when choosing; the other half were not. For the Romney-Gingrich pair, he found that showing the pictures strongly helped Romney among voters who were otherwise less familiar with Gingrich. In fact, it gave Romney at 14-point boost. The second is from Michael Tesler . He shows that racial attitudes are still very strong predictors of how people feel about Barack Obama. And he’s got some lovely graphs. You might think this conclusion is obvious. It’s not. Other research, which I described here , shows that white voters can actually become more...

Conventional Wisdom About China's Economy is Wrong

Daniel Drezner has an interesting post arguing that tales of U.S. decline and China’s ascent are wildly exaggerated. The post contains lots of interesting analysis but this quote from Michael Beckley ’s new article (see here for Andrew Sullivan’s analysis) in International Security had me scratching my head: The widespread misperception that China is catching up to the United States stems from a number of analytical flaws, the most common of which is the tendency to draw conclusions about the U.S.-China power balance from data that compare China only to its former self. For example, many studies note that the growth rates of China’s per capita income, value added in high technology industries, and military spending exceed those of the United States and then conclude that China is catching up. This focus on growth rates, however, obscures China’s decline relative to the United States in all of these categories. China’s growth rates are high because its starting point was low. China is...

Academic v. Troll

Cranky Reader: Sides, you’re not just a moron, but a coward. Me: Say what? CR: You’ve been hyping the “ inevitability of Romney ” since, oh, 2008 . Now the South Carolina primary has made you look like an idiot. And 24 hours later you still haven’t blogged about it. Coward. Me: Oh, I see. CR: Admit you were wrong. Admit that this political science theory you’ve been slobbering over is wrong. You know, from The Party Decides ? The one that says that party leaders strongly influence nominations and that the endorsements of these leaders is a key indicator of who’ll get the nomination? Romney has garnered lots of endorsements. Gingrich hasn’t. In fact, lots of party leaders hate him. So you were wrong. Me: Why should I admit that I was wrong or that theory is wrong? The primary isn’t over yet. CR: Yeah, but that Gallup graph you posted last week ? Now look at it . In fact, Gallup’s homepage says Romney’s nationwide margin over Gingrich is even closer today: 5 points. Me: True enough. CR...

The Public Doesn't Get Private Equity

This is a guest post by Lynn Vavreck . ***** Have the attacks on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital had any effect on voters? Have they even gotten through to voters? In a new poll of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters released on January 20th by YouGov , nearly half (48 percent) of the respondents said they weren’t sure whether they approved or disapproved of Romney’s time at Bain. In the face of all the advertising and free media directed at painting Romney as a “ vulture capitalist ” the fact that half of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina could not form an opinion on this question is striking. Even more interesting, it is the young (18-29 year olds) and the less-well off (those earning less than $40,000 a year in family income) who are most uncertain about Romney’s time at Bain. Sixty-four percent of young people and 60 percent of the low-income households were too uncertain to give an opinion. Even if the exact information about Romney’s time at Bain...

South Carolina Doesn't Hate Romney

Noam Scheiber : The Romney can’t break 25 percent narrative may be overdone, but no other way to explain Newts resilience than deep dissatisfaction w/Romney. I think there is another way besides “deep dissatisfaction with Romney.” After all, the notion of Newt’s resilience is really built on about a 10-point swing in polls conducted in South Carolina. It doesn’t show up (yet) in the national polls, and it’s unclear whether it ever will. It depends on how the South Carolina outcome is spun and whether the Florida outcome—where Romney is still very likely to win—immediately overtakes the news. So I don’t think that late movement in South Carolina polls is a reliable barometer of overall feelings about the Republican field. But more importantly, attitudes toward Romney are actually pretty favorable, even among supporters of other candidates. Including Gingrich’s supporters! In a January 14-17 YouGov poll, 66 percent of Gingrich supporters said they had a “very” or “somewhat favorable”...

Perry Supporters Don't Endorse Gingrich

Now that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race, where are his Perry supporters likely to go? Nate Silver has one take on this here . Here is another snapshot from Lynn Vavreck and me, using a Jan. 14-17 YouGov poll. For the plurality of Perry voters (43%), their second choice is Mitt Romney. Gingrich comes in a close second (29%). This pattern is evident among all voters except those who prefer Ron Paul. Romney’s status as a second choice for so many voters is evidence of his inevitability, as we wrote about last week here . What’s even more interesting: two weeks ago, in the January 7-10 poll, Perry supporters tended to prefer Santorum as their second choice (43% chose him). The intervening week, during which Romney looked ever more like the eventual nominee, led some supporters to jump on the Romney bandwagon. It may not feel like Romney has the momentum in the race—based on Gingrich’s surge in SC, for example—but these data suggest that, under the surface, he does...

Potpourri

Every scientist vs. journalist debate . Guilty as charged. How to be an academic talking head . What do we know about democratic transitions . Great list by Jay Ulfelder. Americans don’t really like big government or big business .

Diplomacy in the You Tube Age

Meet the US’s new Ambassador to Russia (and political science’s own!) Michael McFaul : The response of the Russian authorities? Not nearly as welcoming…

Euro Crisis Part XVII: Boardgame Edition

In this exciting new version, the value of the properties go down once you buy them and the bank has no money….

The Syrian Conflict is Already a Civil War

The headline of Anthony Shadid’s article in Sunday’s New York Times reads “Fear of Civil War Mounts in Syria as Crisis Deepens.” The Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil el-Araby, is quoted as saying “I fear a civil war, and the events that we see and hear about now could lead to a civil war.” Others concur, while stopping short of saying that Syria is currently in a state of civil war. But by most standards, the conflict in Syria has been a civil war for quite awhile (see, for instance, Nicholas Sambanis ‘ thorough analysis of civil war’s competing definitions). Although there is some controversy surrounding the definition, scholars typically consider a conflict a civil war when: two or more armed groups are fighting within state borders over some incompatibility (change of leadership/government, territory, or major policy issue); one of the combatant groups is the government; at least 1,000 people have died due to combat; and at least 100 people have died on either side of the...

George W. Bush 2012?

OK, not really. But NYT colleague Brooks does write : In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move. That describes George W. Bush pretty well, I think. This is not to say that Brooks’s ideas here are wrong, but it might help to acknowledge that just a few years ago we had a president with all these qualities. Brooks also writes, “we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days.” I don’t know what he means, since he just talked about them! His sentence seems like one of those logical paradoxes along the lines of, “This sentence does not mention an elephant.” Just to be clear: my point here is not to pick on Brooks, it’s more to demonstrate the gap between the quals and the quants . Statisticians such as myself see sweeping statements and immediately think, “Yeah? Really? Why do you say that?," while journalists such as David Brooks or Samantha...

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