John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Zombie Politics

Zombie politics—a play on Zombie Economics —refers to ideas about politics that have become so cemented in conventional wisdom that it is virtually impossible to dislodge them. It doesn’t matter what the data says, or what published research says, or what this blog or any blog says. Zombie politics means that even though the ideas are dead, they just can’t be killed. I regret using the by-now-hackneyed zombie metaphor, but it remains apt. And so, George Packer : Perhaps the biggest political puzzle of our time is why, as the lives of working-class whites have descended from the stability and comfort of “All in the Family” to the chaos and despair of “Gran Torino” and “Winter’s Bone,” these same Americans have voted more and more reliably Republican. This would be a puzzle, if it were really true. From Larry Bartels : The graph only the merest hint of a secular trend in the voting behavior of whites without college degrees. It also shows that there is not much of a difference between...


First-mover advantage and the President’s budget. Big Data. Featuring Justin Grimmer, Gary King, and some dude named Gelman. The “98 percent of Catholic women” who’ve used birth control? Maybe not. How ski resorts lie. (Via Justin Wolfers.) The Rowe memo. Severely conservative. No comment. Voter suppression. Felix Salmon : “If you want to get to half a million pageviews, you’re always much more likely to get there with a thousand blog posts than you are with a single swing for the fences.”

Steamy, Sexy, Hot Political Scientists

From today’s New York Times profile of economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers: In her third year there, a handsome Australian on a Fulbright scholarship arrived. At first, Ms. Stevenson dismissed him as a mere political scientist. “It wasn’t what he said; it was his long hair,” she said. Mr. Wolfers, kneading one of Ms. Stevenson’s pedicured feet, interrupted. “Betsey used to tell this story as, ‘He was too good-looking to be an economist,’ ” he said. “But somehow the story has gotten less generous.” I was all ready to get worked up at “mere” and then I remembered that, crap, I had long hair as a political science graduate student. But if Wolfers’ comment is correct, the story of their meeting gets more interesting. In fact, the story would then show how early Stevenson manifested one of the crucial traits that defines how she and Wolfers practice economics—what the article describes as “hew[ing]—one might even say passionately—to the data.” Why would the story show this?...

Can We Reduce the Influence of Money in Elections…With More Money?

Chris Blattman : One fabulously rich person (or a gaggle of them) would put X million dollars into a trust that expires November 9th. X would have to be very large. Probably several hundred million. The rules would be simple. You could choose a funding cap for all candidates, x, which is much, much smaller than X. Say, $100 million. Plenty of money for a modest number of attack ads, since the parties must have a little fun. The key: If any one candidate’s super PACs raised more than x, then the trust would automatically release an equivalent amount of funds to the opponent’s super PACs. The trust would be ready to hurl all its money if it must. So would this work? Kevin Collins is doubtful : Unlikely. Requires large donors to care more about election process than outcomes And most do care about outcomes. And yet still…couldn’t there be one who cares about process? That’s all it would take under Chris’s scheme. Here’s another thought, however. What would a candidate do in response to...

How Liberal Is Barack Obama?

President Obama is the most moderate Democratic president since the end of World War II, while President George W. Bush was the most conservative president in the post-war era. For more, see Keith Poole’s post at Voteview .