John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Perry Supporters Don't Endorse Gingrich

Now that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race, where are his Perry supporters likely to go? Nate Silver has one take on this here . Here is another snapshot from Lynn Vavreck and me, using a Jan. 14-17 YouGov poll. For the plurality of Perry voters (43%), their second choice is Mitt Romney. Gingrich comes in a close second (29%). This pattern is evident among all voters except those who prefer Ron Paul. Romney’s status as a second choice for so many voters is evidence of his inevitability, as we wrote about last week here . What’s even more interesting: two weeks ago, in the January 7-10 poll, Perry supporters tended to prefer Santorum as their second choice (43% chose him). The intervening week, during which Romney looked ever more like the eventual nominee, led some supporters to jump on the Romney bandwagon. It may not feel like Romney has the momentum in the race—based on Gingrich’s surge in SC, for example—but these data suggest that, under the surface, he does...


Every scientist vs. journalist debate . Guilty as charged. How to be an academic talking head . What do we know about democratic transitions . Great list by Jay Ulfelder. Americans don’t really like big government or big business .

Lonely at the Top

The debate among the Republican candidates over Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital has raised again questions about whether Romney’s tenure in the “1 percent” will damage his campaign. The Obama team certainly welcomes this debate. After all, they have been attacking Romney along precisely these lines: The day after Mr. Romney squeezed out a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Obama’s political brain-trust trained most of its fire on him, painting him as both a Wall Street 1 percent type and an unprincipled flip-flopper. Some new survey data that Lynn Vavreck and I have gathered in collaboration with YouGov suggests that Romney is vulnerable to this line of questioning. In a survey conducted nationwide from January 7-10—right about the time that the Republican attacks on Romney’s “vulture capitalism” were crescendoing as the New Hampshire primary approached—we asked respondents: How well do you think each the following describes Barack Obama/Mitt Romney: very well, somewhat...

Mean, Nasty South Carolina Politics

Peter Hamby has a nice debunking of some myths of South Carolina politics. For one, some instances of negative campaigning were widely discussed but never quite confirmed. For another, the negative campaigning that does occur may not work. See also my discussion of the academic literature on negative campaigning, which finds exactly that. Jordan Ragusa adds another valuable point. Rather than assuming that South Carolina’s “culture” breeds nasty politics in presidential primaries, consider this: Because the primary system is an iterated process (rather than a one-shot, 50 state election), political “momentum” is critically important…Simply put, candidates who win early primaries like Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to receive greater support in subsequent states because of sophisticated or “front runner” voting (see this paper ) as well as generate greater campaign donations and support. This, in turn, improves their chances for winning subsequent primaries. Because South Carolina...

Romney Should Thank His Rivals For His Big Win

Following on his earlier post on the Iowa caucus, here again is political scientist Charles Stewart . ***** As with the Iowa caucuses, vote shares for the Republican candidate in New Hampshire distributed themselves geographically in 2012 in ways that are highly consistent with how they were distributed in 2008. The following graphs illustrate that persistence of support. In the order of the finish, we start with Romney, whose showing in 2012 repeated that of 2008, just shifted up about 5 percentage points in every town: (In all these graphs, the area of the circles is proportional to the turnout in the town. The diagonal line shows an equal vote share to 2008.) I show two graphs for Paul, because it appears that he picked up support in areas that had given strong support to Huckabee in 2008. But, first, the graph that compares Paul’s support in 2012 with that of 2008: The eagle-eyed will discern that the regression line through the scatterplot has a slope greater than one: 1.52 to be...