John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Prior Experience and Presidential Greatness

My new post at 538 discusses a forthcoming paper by political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Arthur Simon . They argue that certain kinds of previous experience, including military service and tenure as the governor of a large state, are associated with “presidential greatness,” as gauged by surveys of historians. “Washington outsiders,” by contrast, fare poorly. The post is here .

Do Democrats Need Discipline?

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., center, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, to discuss China currency. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In response to my post on Drew Westen’s latest, a few commenters took issue with a secondary point. (My primary point, that Westen mischaracterizes the partisanship of the mass public, attracted less dissent.) My secondary point was that, despite this stereotype that Democratic politicians are less disciplined than Republicans—more fractious, harder to coordinate, etc.—Democrats and Republicans in Congress have essentially equivalent levels of unity on roll call votes. I honestly believe that most people who say that Democrats are less disciplined than Republicans do not know this fact about unity on roll call votes. That’s why I pointed it out. Is roll call voting the entire story on party discipline? Of course not. Let’s review some other evidence: As I noted in the first post, Democrats and Republicans in the mass public vote for their party’s candidates at the same (high) rate. In presidential elections, party loyalty is approximately 90%. Here is data from the 2008 exit polls,...

Gauging the Influence of Public Interest Groups

A Monkey Cage reader and long-time affiliate of Washington public interest groups asks: Do public interest groups influence policy decisions? For an answer, I asked two political scientists who study interest groups: Dara Strolovich , the author of Affirmative Advocacy , and Matt Grossmann , the author of the forthcoming Not So Special Interests . Here is their post: Categorizing groups as representing the “public interest” is tricky. Even among groups typically considered “public interest groups,” a few relatively large and well-established organizations account for the bulk of opportunities for influence , such as media appearances and committee testimony. And these groups may only represent the interests of their most advantaged constituencies, ignoring the issue concerns of disadvantaged subgroups of their constituencies. “Public interest groups,” in other words, represent small portions of the public. The answer to the reader’s question depends even more on our standard for...

Sigh. Drew Westen. Again.

The New York Times devotes additional column inches to the opinions of Drew Westen. Last time, that didn’t work out so well . How about this time? Westen: Because of their attitude toward authority and hierarchy, Republicans in Congress are more likely to follow their leaders… Democrats on the other hand react so strongly against taking “marching orders” that they can scarcely stay on message even if their political lives depend on it (which they often do). Fact: Democrats in Congress are as unified if not more unified than Republicans in Congress. See here or here . Westen: …the most popular political figure or institution in the country remains “none of the above.” Westen again: If the American people aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid from either side of the aisle, it’s probably because they don’t trust the water from either well. Fact: When Obama is pitted against a generic Republican candidate or any of the current Republican candidates, only a handful of people, perhaps 10% at best,...

Potpourri: Money and Men Edition

The sentence that spawned super-PACs. Super-PACs and the shadow party system. But see Jon Bernstein . Too many men destabilize the world . [Hat tip to Daniel Lippman] Blame testosterone . [Hat tip to Dot Smith]