Carlisle Rainey discusses a potential reason political scientists and political reporters have different views of campaign effects: they use different underlying counterfactuals, in two senses:
First, political scientists tend to discuss the effects of small changes in campaigns, while journalists tend to imagine big changes. Second, political scientists construct counterfactuals in which campaigns are responding to each other and cancelling out, while journalists tend to hold one campaign constant and vary the other.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sat down with CBS News’ Charlie Rose for an exclusive interview that will air on CBS Sunday Morning. In the interview, Obama was pressed by Rose to describe what he thinks has been the biggest mistake of his presidency. The president replied that he thought he got the policies correct, but his salesmanship was lacking. Specifically, Obama said:
When I think about what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well. The mistake of my first term—couple of years—was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times (Via Mediaite).
A new Gallup poll shows that the percent of Americans calling themselves pro-choice has fallen to 41 percent. In 2008, when that number hit 42 percent, there was a predictable flurry of news attention. So I want to call attention to what I wrote then. In short, this “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” question obscures the true nature of American attitudes toward abortion. Support for the right to abortion depends strongly on the circumstances of the pregnancy. They cannot be summarized with the labels “pro-choice” and “pro-life.”
Moreover, and most importantly, more nuanced measures show little of the fluctuation that Gallup’s pro-choice vs. pro-life measure shows. Indeed Gallup’s new poll confirms this finding:
However, it is notable that while Americans’ labeling of their position has changed, their fundamental views on the issue have not.
This is a guest post from Eric M. Patashnik and Jeffery Jenkins. Patashnik is professor of public policy and politics in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Jenkins is associate professor of politics and a faculty associate of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. They are the coeditors of Living Legislation: Durability, Change and the Politics of American Lawmaking.