John Sides

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

Recent Articles

GOP Insiders Seemingly Confident in Herman Cain’s Viability

I am fascinated by this result from the latest HuffPo-Patch poll of Republican party elites in the early primary and caucus states: Nearly three-fourths, 74%, of these party insiders believe that “can beat Obama” describes Cain “very well” or “somewhat well.” That’s more confidence than I would expect. I would be interested to know why these insiders see him as so viable. Given the economic headwinds that Obama faces, there are probably many GOP candidates or non-candidates who could beat him—including, I think, Romney, Perry, Christie, Huntsman, Daniels, Thune, Pawlenty, and others. All you need is some modicum of political experience, a likable enough personality, issue positions that you can massage as needed for your primary and general election audiences, and a minimum of outright wackiness. (And even issue positions that are tougher to massage may not matter much if the economy dominates all other issues.) These qualities typically combine to make a viable candidate who in turn...

David Karol and Hans Noel

We’re very pleased to welcome David Karol and Hans Noel as occasional contributors. They have appeared on this blog on and off (e.g., here or here ), and I have cited their book on the presidential nominations process, The Party Decides , several times. They will be blogging about the election and anything else that catches their fancy. We’re glad to have them aboard.

Motherhood and Marijuana

My new post at 538 looks at whether motherhood affects political attitudes, including attitudes toward marijuana. It speaks to the trend toward acceptance of marijuana and what, if anything, might slow that trend. It seems logical, as Megan McArdle has suggested , that becoming a parent might make you less supportive of legalized marijuana. I draw on some recent research from political scientist Jill Greenlee to address that possibility. The answer? Don’t expect motherhood to matter much. NY Times did not include the link to the research itself. Here it is (gated). [ Photo credit ]

Occupy the Web

AP Photo/John Minchillo
This is a guest post from sociologists Neal Caren and Sarah Gaby of UNC -Chapel Hill. The paper they are discussing is available here . While Occupy Wall Street has received most of its attention for its sustained public displays of numbers and commitment in New York City and many other locations, the movement also has an impressive online infrastructure. In addition to individual websites, multiple Twitter hashtags and dozens of Livestreams, more than 400 Facebook pages have been established in support of various US Occupy mobilizations. In order to begin to understand how activists and their supporters are using Facebook, we have been creating an archive of all the posts and comments shared on these pages since the movement began. In our working paper, we detail the data we have collected, including trends by location and major categories of posts; here we highlight some of the basic trends we have identified. The data here includes information collected up until October 17th. A...

Digital Cameras Reduce Electoral Corruption

Elections in developing countries commonly fail to deliver accountability because of manipulation, often involving collusion between corrupt election offcials and political candidates. We report the results of an experimental evaluation of Quick Count Photo Capture—a monitoring technology designed to detect the illegal sale of votes by corrupt election offcials to candidates—carried out in 471 polling centers across Afghanistan during the 2010 parliamentary elections. The intervention reduced vote counts by 25% for the candidate most likely to be buying votes and reduced the stealing of election materials by about 60%. From a new paper by Michael Callen and James Long. Find it here . A write-up in Slate is here . This did not stop candidates from finding other ways to cheat, of course. From Slate: Of course, with one avenue of electoral fraud shut down, candidates determined to circumvent the democratic process turned to other forms of cheating. Indeed, complaints of voting...