John Sides

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

Recent Articles

Journalist’s Resource

“What we’re doing is, by hand, going through the political science journals and reaching out to people and saying, ‘Hey, what do you think we should include?’ And then try to boil it down to some core studies on topics of interest,” Wihbey said. “Maybe it’s the case that some of the more sophisticated reporters already know this stuff. But we think it could be useful, and we certainly welcome the whole blogging community that’s not necessarily institutionally affiliated to take a look at all this.” That is John Wihbey, of Journalist’s Resource at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. I mentioned Journalist’s Resource a while back, and they are still doing good work. Here’s an example . Here is their entire section on politics. If you are a researcher with a study that might be of interest to journalists, flag it for Journalist’s Resource. Contact information is here .

How to Become a Political Blogger

A new book by Tanni Haas interviews 20 political bloggers and gets their thoughts. Here is one from Tyler Cowen on how to have a successful blog: It needs to be updated regularly and to some extent be self-critical or self-reflective. And the person should read widely on the Web. That’s a requirement. There are some very smart bloggers who shall remain nameless. They don’t read other blogs or respond to them, and I find what they produce to be a little bit backwards. So it’s important to be on the frontier of the debate in the political blogosphere. And Matt Yglesias: It’s especially important, in terms of quality, to ask why people would be reading it. What do you know that other bloggers don’t know? What value is being provided? This is especially important if you’re new and don’t have an institution backing you. People are instinctively going to be a little bit wary. So you really have to find subjects you’re knowledgeable about, and deliver information that, if other people link...

Obama’s Secret Weapon

Will the electorate blame Congress—not the president—for the sour economy?

Michael Tomasky’s piece deserves a few responses. He begins with some unnecessary swipes at political science: Politics is sometimes a science and other times an art. So here we sit, with the election exactly a year away, and the conventional wisdom in the political press is largely driven by the political-science theory of presidential elections and economic determinism: that is, that the results of presidential elections are pretty much strictly a function of economic conditions, and if those are bad (defined by various measures, chiefly the jobless and growth rates), the incumbent will lose. By that theory, Barack Obama is pretty well doomed. And yet I don’t know a soul who thinks he doesn’t stand a decent chance of winning next year. Let’s ignore the oxymoron “pretty much strictly” and assume Tomasky means “strictly.” First point: This is not what political scientists think about presidential elections. Since I’ve written a direct response to the very Economist article that...

Campaigns and Elections Text

Daron Shaw, Matt Grossmann, and Keena Lipsitz, and I have a newly published text on campaign and elections that might be of interest to some readers. It’s intended for classroom use and would, I think, be appropriate for advanced high school students or undergraduates. We tried in the book to do three things. First, we cover all sorts of campaigns—presidential, congressional, state, local. Second, although presenting a lot of political science evidence, we also discuss the actual nitty-gritty of canpaign strategy from the point of view of consultants and other campaign professionals. Third, we engage a lot of normative questions about campaigns, including debates over campaign finance, the Electoral College, and other topics. Accompanying the book are a host of ancillaries, such as group exercises, videos, instructor resources, and the like. The book is here (Norton) or here (Amazon). Apologies for the self-promotion!

Why We Need More Polls

Elmo Roper , 1962: It may be human to err, but to err time and time again, in precisely the same way, is folly of divine dimensions. I am talking about journalists—when they tackle the job of predicting elections. Though their impressionistic predictions often land them in electoral soup, journalists keep on preferring the intuition of a backroom “political expert” to the full, exhaustive reporting of the public’s intentions by any source so dry and uninspiring as public-opinion polls. Journalists run about state or nation, talking to people, people, people everywhere in the dozens or even in the hundreds, ignoring the fact that scientific sampling procedures are available to determine which people should be chosen to represent the nation and that the results are available to all. From the Columbia Journalism Review . Seems crazy to think that we need more polls now. But then again, there is all this me-the-peopling .