John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Did Romney’s Ads Win Him Florida?

It seems obvious that they did. He outspent Gingrich 5-1 precisely when his poll numbers were increasing. But, as is well-known in social science, conclusively demonstrating the effects of campaign ads or other media is actually quite difficult. Thanks to some data that SurveyUSA was willing to provide me, I took a stab in this new post at 538. The conclusions are certainly not ironclad, but maybe they constitute a baby step.

Who Do You Blame For Gridlock?

A journalist writes: I’m tentatively writing a profile of Eric Cantor, and one of the big-picture aspects of the piece I was hoping to get my head around was the question of who voters hold responsible for congressional intransigence. I’ve always been under the general impression that voters don’t usually differentiate all that much between the parties in their low regard for Congress, even when one party is pretty clearly responsible for Congress’s failings; I’m wondering (a) if that’s actually right, and (b) if so, whether there’s any reason to think based on the evidence that that could change under remarkable circumstances like Cantor et al’s current strategy: the fights over the debt ceiling, payroll tax, etc. I.e., is it reasonable to wonder whether the strategy of legislative intransigence that the Republicans have pursued to great effect since 2009 could actually go too far, and damage the Republican brand with the electorate in the 2012 presidential and congressional...

Will a Losing GOP Shift Rightward?

George Packer : McGovern’s debacle forced the Democratic Party to find its way back from the ideological wilderness—from being the party of delegate quotas and “acid, amnesty, and abortion.” Every successful Democrat after 1972, from Carter to Clinton to Obama, has had at least one foot in the party’s center. A Gingrich rout in November might have the same effect on Republicans—it might drive their party back toward the center, and toward mental health, in 2016. But if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election, the party will continue down into the same dark hole where Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum, and now Gingrich all lurk. So this is wrong on one level. The evidence suggests that the longer a party is out of the White House, the more moderate its nominees become. See my post at 538 from a while back. And here’s the graph from Cohen et al.’s The Party Decides (the horizontal axis should read “Terms Party Has Been Out of Office”): So if Romney wins the nomination and...

Mitt Romney’s Tax Problem

Over at Model Politics, Lynn Vavreck, Josh, and I have a new post on Mitt Romney’s tax problem. The problem for Romney, we argue, is that many Americans think he doesn’t pay his fair share. And when we actually told respondents Romney’s tax rate, those who thought he doesn’t pay his fair share became more likely to say that he doesn’t care about “people like me.” See the post for more explanation and several other findings.

Wait, Is the Party Elite for Gingrich Now?

Mark Blumenthal brings an important piece of information to the debate over whether this most recent Gingrich surge means that the party leaders don’t much influence presidential nominations: Gingrich succeeded in South Carolina, however, not by creating a new paradigm, but rather by succeeding on some the very mechanisms identified as critical by The Party Decides : First, Gingrich’s stunning surge at the end of the South Carolina campaign was driven in party by two important endorsements. Rick Perry dropped out of the race and threw his support to Gingrich, and Sarah Palin , though withholding a formal endorsement, urged South Carolina Republican to “vote for Newt” in order to “keep this thing going.” Second, though Gingrich may still trail Romney in elite endorsements nationwide, he appeared to have the upper hand among local elected officials and activists in South Carolina . The Huffington Post/Patch Power Outsiders survey found that as the race came to a close, 44 percent of the...

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