John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Does Retail Politics Work?

The subject of my new post at 538 is whether retail politics—that is, presidential candidate travel to and appearances in crucial states—matters. I also discuss whether local political outlets are inherently more favorable to candidates than national media. Coincidentally, Jeff Zeleny’s new piece in the NY Times discusses the decline in certain kinds of retail politics such as drop-by’s in local restaurants and living rooms.

Once Upon a Time Barney Frank Polling

Number of stories in Lexis-Nexis with words “Barney Frank and “prostitute” that were published between August 25 and October 4, 1989: 302. The percentage of people who answered “no” or “I don’t know” or gave an incorrect answer when asked “Do you happen to know who Barney Frank is?” in an Oct. 5-8, 1989 Times Mirror poll : 89%.

Those Early Negative Ads

Jeremy Peters discusses the GOP ’s ad campaign against Obama, which is well underway. I find this reporting necessary and valuable, but Peters misses an opportunity here: But going negative so early also carries substantial risks. One is that many voters are not yet paying much attention to the campaign and will not do so until much closer to next November, meaning the advertising expenditures could be largely wasted. And negative messages now could alienate moderate and independent voters who blame excessive partisanship for Washington’s troubles in addressing the nation’s big problems. In the same edition of the NY Times, Jim Rutenberg says something similar: In seeking to disqualify their opponent, they will have to be careful not to alienate critical independent voters, who react badly to negative campaigning. Two points. First, reporting about early campaign ads can go beyond simply stating what effects they “could” have. There’s research that reporters could cite or incorporate...

What’s Happened to Ron Paul?

The graph is from Charles Franklin at Polls and Votes . Everyone is talking about Gingrich, now because of the Manchester Union-Leader endorsement . See Nate Silver’s analysis . But I’m especially curious about Ron Paul. Why are his numbers dropping? Although it’s true that he hasn’t gotten much media coverage, it’s also true that media coverage can be as much bane as blessing (see: Cain, Herman). And Paul was relatively familiar to most Republican voters, which suggests that their attitudes aren’t changing simply because they didn’t know who he was and now they do. Or maybe they didn’t really know who he was—despite his 2008 campaign—and now his breaks with Republican orthodoxy are now more visible. But what would drive that impression? Again, it’s not like he’s getting a lot of media coverage. Or time to speak in the GOP debates. Maybe I’m missing something subtle. Or something obvious. I just wouldn’t have expected Paul’s numbers to move that much.

Corporate Lobbying and Tax Rates

The ten Fortune 100 companies that lobbied on 50 or more bills since 2008 paid an average effective tax rate of 17.1 percent in 2010; the ten companies that lobbied on between 25 and 49 bills paid an average effective tax rate of 18.0 percent; the remaining publicly-traded companies paid an average effective tax rate of 26.0 percent. The companies that lobbied on the most tax bills also have seen their tax rates decline the most since 2007. Moreover, we estimate that for the average company, each additional tax bill a company lobbied on since 2008 is associated with a lower 2010 tax rate of between 0.13 and 0.36 percentage points… From a post by Lee Drutman over at the Sunlight Foundation’s blog. See the post for more details from the analysis, along with caveats.