John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at George Washington University.

Recent Articles

We Really Don’t Have Anti-Incumbent Elections

A few weeks ago, I was dubious about 2012 as an “anti-incumbent” election. Alan Abramowitz brings some better data to bear: The graph shows that when congressional incumbents lose, they tend to be mostly from one party. There are really no elections in which large numbers of incumbents from both parties are defeated.

Using Social Media to Measure Conflict in the Gaza Strip

Using a novel data set of hourly dyadic conflict intensity scores drawn from Twitter and other social media sources during the Gaza Conflict (2008–2009), the author attempts to fill a gap in existing studies. The author…measure(s) changes in Israel’s and Hamas’s military response dynamics immediately following two important junctures in the conflict: the introduction of Israeli ground troops and the UN Security Council vote. The author finds that both Hamas’s and Israel’s response to provocations by the other side increase (both by about twofold) immediately after the ground invasion, but following the UN Security Council vote, Israel’s response is cut in half, while Hamas’s slightly increases. This new article, by political scientist Thomas Zeitzoff, is here (gated). Here is an earlier working paper version, and a related post by Drew Conway.

What Do Political Polls Really Accomplish?

This is a guest post from Lawrence Jacobs , who is the Mondale Chair at the University of Minnesota and the author with Robert Shapiro of Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness , among other books. One of the odd paradoxes of American politics is that political polling is soaring as responsiveness to popular opinion is in decline. Roger Simon’s missive flagged non-existent problems with surveys, as many have noted , and pulled a Bill Buckner on a serious problem that does exist: the impact of polls on American politics. Simon reports that “polling drives our political process” and that it is “changing the prism through which the media — both mainstream and social — see events, which changes the national conversation. You can challenge the accuracy of polls. But you can’t challenge their influence.” That’s a serious point but Simon flubs it. The public spotlight is, naturally enough, on the polls that we see but there is an enormous...

Roger Simon’s Ignorance about Polling

Roger Simon , the Chief Political Columnist for Politico: I have never been called by a political pollster and don’t know anybody who has, but I know some pollsters, who assure me they don’t make the numbers up, and I believe them. From George Gallup ’s mock Q-and-A in A Guide to Public Opinion Polls , which he wrote in 1948: “Why haven’t I been interviewed? Why have I never heard of anyone who has been interviewed?” These questions come up frequently in connection with modern public opinion surveys, because people do not understand how it is possible to get an accurate measurement of public opinion when only a small part of the total population is interviewed…In this respect, modern surveys merely apply to public opinion research certain well-established procedures which have been used for years in the fields of engineering, medicine, education, and all the social sciences. When an engineer wishes to judge the quality of ore in a mine, he examines a few “samples.” From these samples...

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