Focus on Political Science

Focus on Political Science

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In a November 6 commentary, pollster Nate Silver gave an excellent explanation of the difference between “house effects” and “bias” among pollsters. The former shows that a pollster leans toward a particular party relative to other pollsters, the latter relates to the actual election results. Thus a house effect may not indicate bias if it ends up giving more accurate results.

On November 4, the Center for Public Integrity published a report on the backgrounds of the Republicans expected to chair House committees in the next Congress.

In a November 4 commentary, Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley discussed how Franklin D. Roosevelt dealt with the 1930s version of a Tea Party revolt led by Huey Long, Charles Coughlin, Francis Townsend and others by co-opting their agenda.

Also on November 4, Boston University historian Robert Dallek published a commentary on the Tea Party phenomenon. He concludes that right-wing populism has had much less influence, historically, than progressivism.

And on November 4, Gallup released a poll on the Tea Party movement. It says that 26 percent of Americans consider themselves to be supporters and 27 percent as opponents. However, the former were much more energized on Election Day than the latter.

A November 4 review of the accuracy of political pollsters in light of the election results found that the Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll was by far the least accurate.

Also on November 4, Rep. Eric Cantor, who is expected to be House Majority Leader in the next Congress, released a letter to his Republican colleagues discussing legislative strategy.

On November 3, PIMCO economist Mohamed El-Erian published a commentary saying that political gridlock is a problem for the economy because legislative action is needed on several fronts – taxes, the budget, housing et al. Therefore, compromise will be necessary. Princeton economist Paul Krugman commented in a November 3 blog post.

Also on November 3, Brookings Institution political scientist Sarah Binder published a commentary arguing that the prospects for compromise are dim given the ideological polarization between Republicans and Democrats.

On November 2, CNN posted the exit poll for the 2010 elections. Key finding: there was a sharp decline in the percentage of voters under age 30 in 2010 over 2008 and a sharp increase in the percentage over age 65.

A Bloomberg poll released on October 29 found that a large majority of voters believe that taxes have increased under the Obama administration, that the economy is continuing to shrink, and that the money lent to banks through the TARP program has not been repaid. In fact, none of these things are true.

In an October 27 commentary, University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan argues that voting is essentially a waste of time because the likelihood that one’s vote will really matter is almost nonexistent.

According to an October 25 Rasmussen poll, 43 percent of Americans don’t feel that either the Republican or Democratic parties represent them.

An October 21 Harris poll found that tea party members aren’t just angry about government; they are angrier than the rest of the population about almost everything.

I last posted items on this topic on October 22.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Read his most recent column here . Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.