Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties and elections.

Recent Articles

The Day after Shutdown

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

So it’s October … or maybe it’s six or ten weeks later, after a short-term continuing resolution has come and gone. The clock strikes midnight, Congress has failed to fund the government, and the next day it shuts down.

What happens next?

If Obama Wants the GOP’s Help in Syria, He Must Deal with Torture First

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Among the lessons of Syria for Barack Obama, there is one that stands out: the destruction of the Republican foreign policy establishment makes his job harder, and the president is now suffering the consequences of his choice to avoid, as much as possible, dealing with the fallout from torture during the George W. Bush administration.

Information Sharing Is Caring

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Many members of Congress are either yahoos who couldn’t find Syria on a map or partisan hacks who make policy choices purely based on political expediency. And yet: the best thing about President Barack Obama’s decision to ask Congress to authorize a strike against the government of President Bashar Assad is that it increases the chances that the eventual road taken by the United States in Syria will be a good one.

All the Pretty Little Districts

Why you need to stop whining about gerrymandering

flickr/Andy Proehl

Of all the good-government obsessions that keep people focused on process instead of substance, one of the very worst—and I know that lots of you reading this share it—is over the “unfairness” of how congressional district lines are drawn. Within that overrated problem, there’s nothing worse than the obsession with pretty and ugly districts. Really: let it go. If you care about politics and public policy, find something else to worry about.

#FF Polling

Photo from Texts from Hillary

There’s a new study out purporting to show that Twitter mentions are just as good as polling in predicting elections. I’m skeptical, and regardless of the study’s findings, the truth is that good survey research—whether for campaigns, news organizations, or academic research—does far more than predict winners.