Not Another Politics Podcast

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With all the noise created by a 24/7 news cycle, it can be hard to really grasp what's going on in politics today. We provide a fresh perspective on the biggest political stories not through opinion and anecdotes, but rigorous scholarship, massive data sets and a deep knowledge of theory. Understand the political science beyond the headlines with Harris School of Public Policy Professors William Howell, Anthony Fowler and Wioletta Dziuda. Our show is part of the University of Chicago Podcast Network.

Episode Date
Political Brokers In India’s Most Marginalized Communities

On this show, we focus a lot on ideological polarization but it’s important to remember that politics is about more than ideology or even policy victories. It’s about distribution and redistribution of goods and services in return for party support, votes. This view of politics is called clientelism, and it often goes overlooked.

One of the landmark papers on clientelism is from Tariq Thatchil, a political scientist at The University of Pennsylvania. It won the award for best paper in the APSR in 2018, and it’s called “How Clients Select Brokers, Competition and Choice in India’s Slums”. Their investigation prompts a re-thinking of the dynamics of clientelism and perhaps even holds some lessons for how to re-think the ideological view of politics as well.

Feb 02, 2023
An Algorithm for Detecting Election Fraud
For better or worse, one of the biggest stories in US politics today is the detection of election fraud, or in many cases the lack of election fraud. But determining whether fraud happened in an election can be difficult, even while proving the validity of elections for some has become increasingly important. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could just plug a set of data from an election into a toolkit that could give us an answer if fraud occurred? Well, one political scientist from the University of Michigan, Walter Mebane believes he may have developed just such a toolkit. It’s called “election forensics”. Much like machine learning algorithms, when tested in the field it does seem to perform fantastically well, but figuring out exactly how it works can be a complicated web to untangle. We give it a shot on this episode.
Jan 18, 2023
Why The U.S. Isn’t As Polarized As It Seems
As we approach the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, we wanted to reflect on where we are as a country and whether politics are really as polarized as they seem. Our co-host Will Howell recently joined another University of Chicago podcast called Big Brains to discuss these very questions. We're going to share that episode with you this week, we hope you enjoy it, and look forward to being back with a new episode in a few weeks.
Jan 05, 2023
Why Aren't the Majority Of Voters Getting What They Want?

Lately it feels like politicians are favoring smaller groups of their constituents over the majority of them. If you've been skeptical about whether this favoritism exists, there's a new theory that supports it. Some voters who are more vocal or intense about political issues are more likely to get their local politician's attention, and these smaller groups of constituents are more likely to get what they want.

In his new book, Frustrated Majorities: How Issue Intensity Enables Smaller Groups of Voters to Get What They Want, University of San Diego political scientist Seth J. Hill uses new empirical evidence to tackle a question that has been floating on the radar: Is democracy broken or are politicians becoming more undemocratic with their approach to win votes?

Dec 21, 2022
An International Look At Affective Polarization
Dec 07, 2022
Why Aren't There More Moderate Politicians?
We took some time off to enjoy the holiday with our families, but in the wake of the 2024 mid-terms, we’re going to re-share this crucial episode and relevant episode. When it comes to polarization, most people in American politics blame the voters. But much of the political science data suggests most voters are actually moderates. So, where are all the moderate politicians? In a new book, “Who Wants To Run?: How The Devaluing of Political Office Drives Polarization”, Stanford political scientist Andrew Hall argues that the reason we don’t have more moderate politicians is actually quite simple…there just aren’t any incentives for them to run.
Nov 23, 2022
LIVE: How Members Of Congress Forge Relationships With Their Voters
This episode was recorded live at the NASPAA conference in Chicago. With the midterms upon us, we decided to look back at a piece of landmark scholarship that may be able to tell us something about the dynamics of personal interactions between representatives and their constituencies. It’s by political scientist Richard Fenno called “U.S. House Members in Their Constituencies: An Exploration”. We often assume that voters cast their ballots based on ideology and policy, but it could it be more personal than that? Fennon took a novel approach to answering that question that he calls “soaking and poking”. We explore what his discoveries can tell us about our current elections and how representatives think about their interactions with their constituents. Paper:
Nov 09, 2022
What Can We Learn About Polarization From The UK?
One theme on our show is trying to make sense of why elites appear to be so polarized when the larger public is more moderate. We almost always study these trends in the U.S. but could we look to another country for insight? A country like the UK perhaps? In her paper “Has The British Public Depolarized Along with Political Elites?” University of Oxford political scientist Jane Green measures the differences between elite and public polarization during the eighties and nineties when the parties actually depolarized. Did elite depolarization lead to public depolarization, and what lessons do this data hold for the US?
Oct 26, 2022
Are Legislators Beating The Market With Insider Information?
There might not be a more controversial political hack than members of Congress being legally allowed to trade stocks. Infamously, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has been regularly accused of insider trading. Recently the House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would prohibit members of Congress, their spouses, and children, from trading stocks. Although the bill has stalled, it's renewed a really important lingering question: are members of Congress actually advanced investors, and how much are they benefiting from inside information? In a 2014 paper by University of Chicago's Andy Eggers and Stanford University's Jens Hainmueller titled, Political Capital: Corporate Connections and Stock Investments in the U.S. Congress, they look at a wide data set of investments made by hundreds of members of Congress between 2004 and 2008, to see whether or not they're getting an unfair advantage. The results may surprise you.
Oct 12, 2022
Do Primaries Cause Polarization?
For years, political scholars and pundits have claimed that primary elections are exacerbating polarization and with the 2022 midterm elections approaching this year has been no different. With many extremist candidates on both sides of the aisle, it certainly feels like this claim should be true, but does the political science back that up? To find an answer we turn to Harvard political scientist James Snyder and his 2010 paper “Primary Elections and Partisan Polarization in the U.S. Congress”. The findings are surprising and may have some key insights for how we should think about primary elections in the U.S.
Sep 28, 2022
Can Fact-Checking Counter Misinformation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an era of misinformation. From social media to cable news, the spread of false or misleading information about COVID vaccines has been rampant. Some social media platforms have moved more aggressively by trying to flag misleading posts with disclaimers. Can fact-checking reduce the spread of misinformation? And perhaps more importantly, can fact-checks change people's minds about getting vaccinated? In a new study, George Washington University political scientist Ethan Porter decided to look at COVID-19 misinformation spanning across ten countries, from Brazil to Nigeria, to the United States. He and his co-authors evaluated factual corrections in these ten countries to see whether or not they changed people's beliefs and whether they got vaccinated.
Sep 14, 2022
Do People Automatically Reject Policies Of The Opposite Party?
In our hyper-polarized climate, it is often said that partisans determine their policy positions not based on thought and reason but on opposition to the other party. If I’m a Republican and I hear that Nancy Pelosi supports a particular policy, I’ll reflexively take the opposite stance. There is a literature in political science that suggests this is the case, but could it be wrong? In a new paper, “Updating amidst Disagreement: New Experimental Evidence on Partisan Cues”, our very own Will Howell and Anthony Fowler demonstrate that more robust research designs leads to a completely different conclusion. The American public may be more open to deliberative policy positions than we think; they just need to be given the option.
Aug 31, 2022
Does The Economy Affect Elections?
The midterm elections are fast approaching, and with rampant inflation one of the main concerns for Democrats is the state of the economy. It’s commonly accepted that some voters cast their ballots solely on the price of gas and bread, but does the science back that up? There is a classic paper by political scientist Gerald Kramer from 1971 that can help us answer that question. It systematically evaluates the relationship between changes in the various dimensions of the economy and two party vote share over the better part of a century. On this episode, we discuss that paper, what it can tell us about the Democrat’s chances in the 2022 midterms, and if the possible effects of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Aug 17, 2022
Best Of: Does Ranked Choice Reduce Strategic Voting?
Something curious has happened in American politics. Andrew Yang of 2016 presidential election fame has launched a third party, The Forward Party, and he's attracting some attention. A key feature of this party is a belief in ranked choice voting and raising up the possibility that through ranked choice voting, we might recover our our democracy. We're taking a week off to spend time with family, but we wanted to resurrect our discussion with our colleague Andy Eggers, who has written at length on ranked choice voting and the relationship between ranked choice voting and strategic voting. We hope you enjoy it. And we'll be back in two weeks with a brand new episode of Not Another Politics Podcast.
Aug 03, 2022
Did Voter Turnout Drop in Communities of Color After Shelby?
Nearly a decade ago, the Supreme Court effectively removed the "preclearance" process in its Shelby County v. Holder decision. That process had been implemented for decades as part of the Voting Rights Act and required places with a history of racial discrimination to get approval from the Justice Department before changing their voting procedures. When the Shelby decision came down, voting rights advocates and mobilization groups panicked. There were widespread fears that this decision would dramatically reduce voter participation in communities of color. Did they? The University of Rochester's Mayya Komisarchik and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Ariel White sought to answer that question in their recent paper, "Throwing Away the Umbrella: Minority Voting after the Supreme Court’s Shelby Decision." In this episode, we speak to Komisarchik about the impacts of the Shelby decision and whether our fears about countermobilization and voter suppression tactics have held true.
Jul 20, 2022
Do Local Minimum Wages Represent Local Preferences?
Advocates for the striking down of Roe by the Supreme Court say this will improve our politics by allowing people’s preferences to be better represented at the State level. But do State and local governments accurately match the preferences of their citizens when responding to their demands? It’s a difficult question to answer, but one paper by NYU political scientist Julia Payson and co-author Gabor Simonovits at Central European University, “Locally controlled minimum wages are no closer to public preferences” provides a possible answer by way of locally set minimum wages. When local governments increase their minimum wages, do they accurately match local preferences? The answer is surprising, and has implications for policies beyond just minimum wage.
Jul 06, 2022
Roe & Departure From Precedent In The Supreme Court
There’s long been a belief that the Supreme Court rarely departs from precedent. But as the court appears to intend to strike down Roe, we’re wondering what the data tell us about how consistent the Supreme Court has been at honoring precedent. And, is the Supreme Court more likely to depart from precedent in constitutional cases than other types? To break it all down, we spoke to Washington University law professor Lee Epstein, about her 2015 paper, "The Decision To Depart (or Not) From Constitutional Precedent: An Empirical Study of the Roberts Court", co-authored by William M. Landes and Adam Liptak.
Jun 22, 2022
Revealing New Data On Who Donates To Campaigns
There are many questions surrounding the nature of money in politics, but one of the first order questions we should be asking is who exactly is donating that money? We now have access to more data than ever due to a dramatic increase in small donations through online fundraising platforms. Georgetown University Economist Laurent Bouton digs through this new data set in a recent paper “Small Campaign Donors” to answer all sorts of questions like: do big or small donors give more strategically, has there been an increase in donations to extremist candidates, and are the coasts influencing elections more than the rest of the country by donating more money?
Jun 08, 2022
Best Of: Fixing the Filibuster
As the academic year draws to a close at The University of Chicago, our hosts are busy attending to the last minute activities of a professor. So, this week we wanted to re-share one of our favorite episodes interrogating a radically different proposal to fix the filibuster rather than abolishing it altogether. The filibuster is still one of the most contentious aspects of our politics today, and how it changes or doesn't change has a powerful impact on the most pressing political issues of the moment.
May 25, 2022
Nuclear Brinkmanship In Ukraine
One of the biggest questions surrounding the conflict in Ukraine is to what extent the shadow of nuclear war affects the degree of involvement by Western countries. Much of the literature in nuclear deterrence theory assumes the incentives of mutually assured destruction are strong enough to avoid a nuclear war, and hence the existence of nuclear capabilities in Russia and the West should not play much of a role in how the conflict progresses. But one paper by a late University of California Berkeley political scientist calls this theory into question. On this episode, we discuss Robert Powell’s “Nuclear Brinkmanship, Limited War, and Military Power”. In it, Powell builds a model that explains how conflicts can lead to nuclear war even under mutually assured destruction, but also how threat of that war changes the dynamics of any conflict from the beginning. Both findings give us a number of insights into the current situation in Ukraine.
May 11, 2022
What Happens When Fox News Viewers Watch CNN Instead?
When it comes to cable news, Fox and CNN have pretty partisan viewers. So, what would happen if Fox viewers tuned into CNN for a month? Would they suddenly adopt different views more aligned with CNN? UC Berkeley political scientist David Broockman and his colleagues wanted to find out. When they paid Fox News viewers to watch CNN, they found that Fox News viewers became more supportive of vote-by-mail, and less likely to believe that then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden wanted to eliminate all police funding. The findings have made huge waves in the media, so we decided to take our unique microscope to the paper to see if we can get a fuller picture of what these findings tell us.
Apr 27, 2022
Does Russian Propaganda Influence Ukrainians?

By now, we've heard a lot about how state-owned Russian television is distorting the truth about the war in Ukraine. But Russian TV doesn't just reach Russian viewers. Some Ukrainians can receive its analog television signals.

To understand how this propaganda influences Ukrainians, we turned to New York University political scientist Arturas Rozenas, to talk about his 2017 paper, "Electoral Effects of Biased Media: Russian Television in Ukraine".

Apr 13, 2022
Why Are Cities Hiring Lobbyists?
We know that lobbyists have the power to influence politics. But not all lobbyists are working on behalf of corporate interest groups. Sometimes, city officials actually hire lobbyists to represent the interests of their constituents in the state legislature. Why would cities do this? This is what New York University political science professor Julia Payson explores in her paper, "The Partisan Logic of City Mobilization: Evidence From State Lobbying Disclosures." She finds that local governments are more likely to depend on lobbyists when there are partisan and ideological mismatches with their state legislators.
Mar 30, 2022
How Concerned Should We Be About Partisan Election Officials?
Mar 16, 2022
Ukraine, Putin and Credible Deterrence
Russia has invaded Ukraine. This horrible global crisis raises questions about Putin’s ultimate ambitions, and how nations can make credible deterrent threats in incredible circumstances. We’re not experts on the Ukraine conflict, but we can dive into the political science research to get some clarity on the underlying dynamics that may be at play. And there’s no better paper to turn to than “Fear, Appeasement, and the Effectiveness of Deterrence” from Alexander V. Hirsch at Caltech.
Mar 02, 2022
No, Football Games Don’t Affect Elections
You've probably heard this one before: college football games and shark attacks influence elections in favor of incumbents. Surprising findings like these are exciting, and seem to tell us a lot about the stability of our democracy and the rationality of voters. If you listen to our podcasts regularly, you’ve probably also heard this one: Anthony Fowler doesn’t think voters are irrational. On this episode, we cover a back and forth of academic papers our co-host had arguing that the original result about college football games was a false-positive, and what lessons we should draw from this exchange.
Feb 16, 2022
How Redistribution And Beliefs About Meritocracy Go Hand In Hand
Feb 02, 2022
How A Single Lie In A Crisis Can Destroy Trust In Government
Jan 19, 2022
Can More Information On A Bill Change Votes?
Jan 05, 2022
A Better Way To Think About Polarization?
We often think of polarization as a single policy spectrum with Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right. But what if this entire framework is wrong, and this error itself is worsening the divides in our country? This is what Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossman argues in his article: “Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats: The Asymmetry of American Party Politics”. He says that what really divides us isn’t differing policy views but different views of the purpose of government itself. And, perhaps offers us a way out of our current polarization spiral. Grossman is also the host of another fantastic podcast "The Science of Politics", which we highly recommend you give a listen!
Dec 15, 2021
Best Of: How The Rich Rule Despite Unpopular Inequality
We took some time off to enjoy the holiday and our families. We’re going to reshare this crucial episode about how the wealthy retain power in a time of inequality this week, and we’ll be back with a brand new episode next week! Thanks for listening!
Dec 01, 2021
Are Most Voters Moderates?
If you watch cable news or open your twitter feed it may seem like Americans are more polarized than ever. It certainly feels like everyone is on the far ends of two diametrically opposed ideologies. But, if you look closely at the data, this current conventional wisdom may be wrong. Our very own co-host Anthony Fowler has developed a reputation on our podcast for being the champion of the idea that most voters are actually moderates. On this episode, he puts his data where his mouth is, and shares the findings of his aptly named paper, “Moderates”, laying out the case for why there are more moderates than we think.
Nov 17, 2021
Are Irrational Voters A Threat To Democracy?

There’s a long tradition in political science of using voter rationality to test the health of our democracy. But could this myopia be misguided? Are there any situations where irrational and uninformed voters could actually generate a healthier democracy?

That’s exactly what University of Chicago political scientist Ethan BdM examines in his paper “Is Voter Competence Good for Voters?: Information, Rationality, and Democratic Performance”. Using formal models, he lays out the possibility that information and rationality do not always lead to a better democracy and strikes directly at the heart of this foundational literature.

Paper link:

Nov 03, 2021
Where Are All The Moderate Politicians?

When it comes to polarization, most people in American politics blame the voters. But much of the political science data suggests most voters are actually moderates. So, where are all the moderate politicians?

In a new book, “Who Wants To Run?: How The Devaluing of Political Office Drives Polarization”, Stanford political scientist Andrew Hall argues that the reason we don’t have more moderate politicians is actually quite simple…there just aren’t any incentives for them to run.

Link to book: Who Wants To Run?: How The Devaluing of Political Office Drives Polarization



Oct 20, 2021
Are Americans “Politically Sophisticated”?

In 1964, political scientist Philip Converse published one of the most citied papers in the discipline: “The nature of belief systems in mass publics”. It attempted to define just how consistent and sophisticated are the political beliefs of the American public.

In our current moment, when democracy seems in the balance of an ideologically polarized society, it’s hard to think of paper with more relevance. But how accurate is it, and how has the paper itself pushed political science, creating a feedback loop, to focus on particular questions instead of others?

The podcast is going to try something different this week. We’re going to look back at this foundational paper, discuss its implications for today, and investigate how it has shaped political science.

Paper Link: 

Oct 06, 2021
Do Lockdowns Work?
As the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge across the U.S. the question of should we lockdown again is on a lot of people’s minds. But, shouldn’t we stop and look at the data to see if lockdowns work? In a new paper, our very own Anthony Fowler has done just that. And what the data say about the efficacy of state imposed shelter in place orders may surprise you.
Sep 23, 2021
Introducing: Entitled
The University of Chicago Podcast Network is excited to announce the launch of a new show, it’s called "Entitled" and it’s about human rights. Co-hosted by lawyers and UChicago Law School Professors, Claudia Flores and Tom Ginsburg, Entitled explores the stories around why rights matter and what’s the matter with rights. We’re taking a much needed break at the end of the summer, so we're going to share the first episode of that show with you this week, and recommend you go subscribe! We’ll be back in two weeks with a new episode of Not Another Politics Podcast!
Sep 08, 2021
Does Ranked Choice Reduce Strategic Voting?

There’s a long standing debate in political science about the problem of strategic voting: when voters cast their ballots not in line with their true preferences, but for the candidate they hate the least whom they think is also most likely to win.

In a new paper, University of Chicago political scientist Andrew Eggers shows that a completely different system, ranked-choice voting, could reduce strategic voting and create opportunities for people to vote in line with their true preferences.

Paper link: 

Aug 25, 2021
How Much Should We Believe Surveys?

You’ve probably seen a lot of surveys recently about how many Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen, or that they support the January 6th insurrection on Capitol Hill, or that they don’t trust the vaccine. Do these responses predict their behavior in the real world? Or are they just partisan cheerleading?


Northwestern Political Scientist Mary McGrath looks into this question in her paper “Economic Behavior and The Partisan Perceptual Screen.” By combing through data about survey responses and spending patterns before and after presidential elections, she investigates whether partisans truly believe it when they say the economy is getting better when one of their own occupies the White House. If partisans do believe what they say, shouldn’t their financial decisions change accordingly? And if these decisions don’t change, what does that mean for how we should think about survey responses in general?


Paper Link:  

Aug 11, 2021
Voters and Vaccines: The Politics of Ground Campaigns

Whether it’s trying to convince you to vote for a particular candidate or get vaccinated, the identity of the person who knocks on your door may matter. So who are the people who volunteer to do this canvassing? Are they likely to succeed?


These are all questions that Harvard political scientist Ryan Enos investigates in his paper, “Party Activists As Campaign Advertisers: The Ground Campaign As A Principal-Agent Problem.” Using a rare dataset from Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, Enos delves into the politics of door to door campaigns, and we try and tease out some lessons for our current efforts to persuade people to get vaccinated.


Link To Paper:

Jul 28, 2021
The Long Term Effects Of Infrastructure Investment

Infrastructure. It’s one of the hottest topics in politics today. But what does the research say about the effects and politics of infrastructure investment?

Political scientist, Jon Rogowski, from the University of Chicago has a surprising paper that shows the long-term economic outcomes of post office developments in the United States. But it also gives us a lot to think about when it comes to who benefits, misses out, or even loses when infrastructure gets political.


Jul 14, 2021
Do Americans Want Moderates Or Extremists?

It seems like extremists politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene receive a disproportionate amount of attention and money. This has led many political actors to believe that extremism is good politics. There’s even some scientific research to back up that claim.

But a new paper by Professor of Politics at Princeton, Brandice Canes-Wrone, shows the exact opposite. It shows that, in fact, moderates may have better chances of getting elected than extremists. So, should more politicians take a moderate approach?

Jun 30, 2021
Fixing the Filibuster

The debate about abolishing the filibuster isn’t going anywhere. Proponents say it forces compromise and consensus, while detractors claim it leads to gridlock and minority rule. But is there a third option?  

Harvard scholar, Kenneth Shepsle, has a radically different proposal that addresses all these concerns without abolishing the filibuster altogether. We discuss his idea on this episode.

Jun 16, 2021
Should The Supreme Court Have Term Limits?

A lot of people are unhappy with the ideological make-up of the Supreme Court. They say it doesn’t reflect the majority of the country. President Biden’s commission tasked with reforming the Supreme Court started meeting for the first time in May of this year. One of the proposals they’re going to consider is setting term limits on Justices. But they’re far from the first group to consider this idea.

Adam Chilton is a Professor of Law at The University of Chicago Law School and the author of a paper the proposes a set of Supreme Court reforms involving terms limits, and then runs simulations to show how the make-up of the Court could have been different if their reforms were in place. If we had term limits from the beginning, could we have avoided the problems people have with the Court?

Jun 02, 2021
Always Be Updating: New Research On Old Topics

We’ve been doing this podcast for over a year and we’ve covered a lot of research, but each paper is far from the final word on any topic.

On this episode, it’s time to do some updating. We’re going to take three recent papers and show how they change or deepen our understanding of prior papers we’ve covered on this podcast.  

May 19, 2021
To Block Or Not To Block: Obstruction In The Senate

Does the ability for minority parties to delay and obstruct legislation force the majority party to only pass bills that are more moderate? It’s a question that informs much of our political debate around dilatory tactics like the filibuster.

University of Michigan Political Scientist, Christian Fong, has a paper that models this question and argues that these delay and obstruct abiliities lead to policies that are closer to what the median voter may want. We discuss that paper, the filibuster and the possible strategies of Sen. Joe Manchin on this episode.

May 05, 2021
What the Data Say About Voter ID Laws

There’s a lot of debate in our politics about whether we should have stricter voter ID laws. But both sides are having an argument based almost entirely on assumptions because data on the real effect of these laws are scarce. Not anymore.

In a brand new paper, Stanford Political Scientist Justin Grimmer gives us a fresh look at whether stricter voter ID laws decrease turnout during elections. The numbers may surprise you.

Apr 21, 2021
Why Democrats Should Move To The Suburbs If They Want To Win More Legislative Seats

This year the U.S. will go through its decennial redistricting process, which is resurfacing our national conversation around gerrymandering. But Stanford Professor of Political Science, Jonathan Rodden, says gerrymandering isn't the least of our problems when it comes to the politics of geography.

In his book, "Why Cities Lose", Rodden illustrates how we can still end up with minority majority rule, regardless of gerrymandering, due to the urban-rural divide. So, if the Democrats want to win more legislative seats, should they move to the suburbs?

Apr 07, 2021
The Institutional Racism Of Land-Use Regulation

Are land-use regulations incredibly boring? Not quite. As our guest argues, these seemingly banal policies could be causing modern-day segregation.

In a new paper, Jessica Trounstine, chair of the political science department a the University of California Merced, makes a strong case for why land-use policies aren’t as race-neutral as they seem, and why we need to pay more attention to them.

Mar 24, 2021
Are Media Echo Chambers As Big As We Think?

We’re constantly told that we’re trapped in media “echo chambers”, that our media diets mirror our political leanings. But what do the data say? Is it possible that a majority of us have a much more moderate media diet than we assume?

A new paper by Andrew Guess, Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton, provides a completely unique data set that complicates our assumptions about America’s “echo chambers” and media diets.


Mar 10, 2021
Nationalized Elections, The End Of Local News, And Government Accountability
    When was the last time you voted split-ticket in an election? It may not be surprising to hear that our elections have become increasingly nationalized in the last few decades. Most people vote for a single party straight down the ballot. The question is, why?     Daniel Moskowitz, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Harris School of Public Policy, says the answer may be the massive reduction of local news. On this episode, we speak with Moskowitz about why nationalized elections are a problem, the key role of local news, and what we might do to fix things.   Paper: <a href=""></a>         
Feb 24, 2021
A New Theory of Political Scandals

Political scandal is a historically defining aspect of American politics. But, there’s been very little scholarship on the political incentives that surround the production and consequences of scandals.

In a recent paper, “Political Scandal: A Theory”, our very own Will Howell and Wioletta Dziuda create a new model of political scandal that makes these incentives clear. On this episode, we discuss how these incentives should reshape the way we think about political scandals.

Feb 10, 2021
The State of Our Democracy, with James Robinson: Just Another Politics Podcast

One of the defining discussions of the Trump presidency centers on the fate of our democracy. In the aftermath of his populist presidency, and as we transition to the Biden era, we’re wondering whether the future is bright or dim.

There’s no better scholar to put this question to than the University of Chicago Professor and co-author of “Why Nations Fail”, James Robinson. We look forward and backward with Robinson to diagnose the health of our democracy.

Jan 27, 2021
Do Americans Support Democracy As Much As They Say?

It’s an extraordinarily distressing time for democracy in America. The storming of the Capitol and the votes by some Republican elected officials questioning the results of the 2020 election have many asking what force could act as a check on these increasing anti-democratic tendencies in American political life?  

A paper from Milan Svolik, Prof. of Political Science at Yale, may hold some answers. He investigates whether the American public would act as a check on anti-democratic politicians, and reveals how much we truly value democracy when we’re presented with tradeoffs.

Jan 13, 2021
Best Of: Are We Really Living In Separate Worlds?

It’s been an incredibly divisive year, and we’re constantly told we’re more politically divided than ever. But, as our team takes some time with their families for the holidays, we want to re-share a more hopeful conversation with you that sheds some new light on these seemingly unbridgeable divides in our country.

We hope you enjoy it, and we’ll be bringing you brand new episodes after the holiday.

Dec 30, 2020
Do Government Programs Get People More Involved In Politics?

It’s long been thought in political science that giving people resources through government programs will get them more involved in politics. But this has always been a difficult question to answer in a controlled environment. That is until the 2008 Medicaid expansion in Oregon.

There was an extensive research initiative done on the roll out of that expansion, and our boss and the Dean of the Harris School of Public Policy, Katherine Baicker, was involved. On this episode, we parse through the results with her to see if we can get a new perspective on this question.

Dec 16, 2020
Presenting The "Big Brains" Podcast

This week, we took some time off for Thanksgiving so we're going to feature another University of Chicago Podcast Network show. It’s called Big Brains. On this episode, they spoke with Professor James Robinson, author of the renowned book Why Nations Fail, about his groundbreaking theories on why certain nations succeed and others fail as well as the future of America’s institutions. We hope you enjoy and we’ll see you soon for a new episode of Not Another Politics Podcast.

Dec 02, 2020
The Politics Of Distraction

Most of America, and a lot of the world, has been singularly focused on the U.S. presidential election. With so much media attention on this one event, could foreign actors be taking advantage of this moment to do unpopular things?

In a new paper, economist Ruben Durante from the University of Pompeu Fabra argues that politicians strategically time controversial actions with major news events, when the United States is most distracted.

Nov 18, 2020
What Just Happened?

Last week, the American people elected Joe Biden to be the forty-sixth president of the United States. This was an incredibly contentious and complex election. We decided to get together to try and make sense of what just happened.

On this episode, we discuss what message the historic turn out, for both candidates, sends about Trumpism and the increasing left-wing of the Democratic party, why the polls got everything so wrong, again, and what a Biden Presidency will look like given the likelihood of a divided government.

Nov 09, 2020
Reining In The Supreme Court

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett would make the Supreme Court more conservative than it has been in decades. Importantly, it also would be more conservative than the majority of the public. But one piece of political science research suggests that an out-of-step Court will not simply have its way in the years ahead.

Judges like to present themselves as arbiters of the law, free from the entanglements of politics. But work from Tom Clark, Professor of Political Science at Emory University, calls that idea into question, and shows why our new conservative Court may still follow public opinion.

Oct 21, 2020
The Vice Presidential Debate: Just Another Politics Podcast

On this second edition of the "Just Another Politics Podcast Special", we decide to join our fellow political podcasts in sitting back in our armchairs and sharing our thoughts on the first Presidential debate.

The day after the Vice Presidential debate, we recorded a response to what happened and what we think its affect on the 2020 election could be. We think this insightful conversation is worth sharing with you, even if it breaks our usual format.

Don't worry, we'll be back next episode with serious-minded research and science that looks at our politics and political system!

Oct 12, 2020
The Debate: Just Another Politics Podcast

On this "Just Another Politics Podcast Special", we decide to join our fellow political podcasts in sitting back in our armchairs and sharing our thoughts on the first Presidential debate.

The day after the debate, we recorded a response to what happened and what we think its affect on the 2020 election could be. We think this insightful conversation is worth sharing with you, even if it breaks our usual format.

Don't worry, we'll be back next episode with serious-minded research and science that looks at our politics and political system!

Oct 05, 2020
How To Really “Get Out The Vote”

Every Presidential election, we talk about “getting out the vote”. But what really works and what doesn’t in terms of getting people to go to the polls? And how will the coronavirus pandemic alter those efforts? We speak to one political scientist who has conducted more studies into “get out the vote” campaigns than any other.

Professor Donald Green from Columbia University shares his research about what works in terms of getting out the vote, and how we expect things to be different this years due to COVID-19.

Sep 23, 2020
October Surprises and the 2020 Election

We’re heading into the homestretch of the 2020 election and, as October draws near, we want to take a research focused look at the famed “October Surprise.” It’s a political notion that says, if you want to damage a presidential candidate with a political bombshell you’ve discovered, you should wait until just before the election to release the accusations. But why should candidates wait? What do October Surprises reveal about the politics of scandal? And what can voters can infer from them?

A paper by Gabriele Gratton, a professor at The University of New South Wales in Australia, gives counter intuitive insights into when you should drop a bombshell if you want to cause the maximum amount of damage to your political opponent. We discuss how this research could change the way we view “October surprises” and the 2020 election.

Link to paper: 

Sep 09, 2020
Discrimination: Why Women Outperform Men in Congress

In November, Kamala Harris could be elected the first woman to ever serve as president or vice president. Why are women so underrepresented in the highest levels of government? And what does this imply about the women who do reach those levels? 

In this episode, we discuss a paper from Professors Christopher Berry at the University of Chicago and Sarah Anzia at UC Berkeley that attempts to indirectly assess discrimination against women in the electoral process by testing whether the women who are elected perform better once in office. 

We discuss their study, alternative explanations of their findings, and implications for the 2020 presidential election and a potential Biden-Harris administration.

Link to paper:

Aug 26, 2020
How The Rich Rule Despite Unpopular Inequality

How is it that in a Democracy with massive inequality, where the poor have just as much voting power as the rich, do the wealthy continue to get what they want politically? It’s a question that’s troubled political thinkers for a long time.    Political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have an answer in their new book “Let Them Eat Tweets: How The Right Rules In An Age of Extreme Inequality”. On this episode, we tackle that question and their answer.   Part 1: How did the plutocrats take over the Republican Party: 16:00   Part 2: Are the voters getting duped or do their preferences really align with the wealthy: 20:20   Part 3: Is Donald Trump a natural continuation of Republican strategy?: 34:20

Aug 12, 2020
Should We Make It Illegal Not To Vote?

Who shows up to vote in America, and why do they do it? These are two of the most debated and contentious questions in political science. After almost every election, you’ll hear experts and pundits lamenting the lack of voter turnout. But does the research have anything to say about what policies would increase representation?

In this episode, our very own Anthony Fowler explains a new report that he co-authored in Brookings that argues we will get better representation but instituting compulsory voting in the U.S. But in a country where we can’t even get everyone to wear a mask, what are the odds that compulsory voting would work here, and what would it’s benefits be?

Jul 29, 2020
Why The Presidency Is Key To Combatting Populism

The dramatic rise of populism in America, embodied in President Trump, presents a real threat to democracy. Our very own professor William Howell argues that the root of the problem lies with ineffective government and that the solution may be to give the President agenda setting power.

We delve into his new book “Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy” and explore how giving president’s agenda setting power could break government gridlock and lead us to a more effective government.

Jul 15, 2020
Would A Woman Executive Govern Differently Than Men?

One of the most anticipated developments of the 2020 election is who Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, will pick to be his running mate. One thing is almost certain though, whoever he picks will be a women. And that person very well could be the first female President of the United States.

Does the political science scholarship tell us anything about how a woman executive may govern differently? One intriguing paper, "Queens", from Oeindrila Dube at The University of Chicago sheds some revelatory light on this question.


Jul 01, 2020
Do Protests Affect Elections?

In the last few weeks, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and many other black people at the hands of police have driven nationwide protests. To be true to the mission of our show, we want to look at this complex moment through the lens of political science research.

There’s almost no paper getting more attention at this moment than Princeton Assistant Professor Omar Wasow’s “Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting”. We decided to devote this entire episode to our interview with Omar during which we discuss the substance of the paper, what it can and can’t say about our current moment, and the controversies that have surrounded it.


Jun 17, 2020
Do Politicians Vote With Their Donors When Voters Are Distracted?

One cause for concern during a pandemic that hasn’t gotten much attention is what else politicians might be doing while we’re focused on the virus. What laws are they passing, what regulations are they getting rid of, and could their actions be more in line with their donors than their voters?

Professor Jorg Spenkuch from Northwestern University has a fascinating paper that provides insight into these important questions. The data he provides point in the direction that political accountability takes a big hit during disasters.

Paper: Natural Disasters, Moral Hazard, and Special Interests In Congress

Jun 03, 2020
Does The Media Really Affect Elections?

It may be hard to believe during coronavirus, but the 2020 election will soon be upon us. As usual, news outlets will play a crucial role informing the public about the candidates. But could their decisions actual swing elections?

That’s the argument put forward by Prof. Gregory Martin from Stanford University in a recent paper. The data he’s collected shows that the decisions made by reporters and editors may have surprising effects on who voters support.


May 20, 2020
The Surprising New Data On Vote-By-Mail

One of the increasingly prominent concerns around the coronavirus is how we’ll handle voting in the 2020 election. Democrats have called for a blanket vote-by-mail system, while Trump and the Republicans have said that system would disproportionately favor Democrats. But what does the research and data tell us about vote by mail systems?

A recent paper from soon to be Asst. Prof at UCLA, Dan Thompson, provides us with the newest and cleanest data available about the effects of vote-by-mail on turn out and partisans differences in elections. The results are surprising, and should completely change the debate over vote-by-mail.

Link to paper:

May 06, 2020
Are Democrats And Republicans Really Living In Separate Worlds?

One of the prominent stories of the coronavirus outbreak has been that Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on a shared set of facts about the virus. One believes it is more deadly and dangerous than the other. But groundbreaking research from political scientist Gregory Huber at Yale University call that narrative into question.

For years, political scientists have relied on surveys to understand what the American public knows and thinks about what’s happening in politics and the world, like COVID-19 for example. But what if those surveys aren’t actually telling us about people’s true beliefs?

Apr 22, 2020
How A Single Demagogue Can Change A Democracy Forever

Americans often think of demagogues as a feature of foreign countries with weak or non-existent democracies. But is it possible to still get a demagogue in a functioning and strong democracy? That’s the argument of Mehdi Shadmehr in his paper: “Demagogues and the Fragility of Democracy”.

One of the scariest features of this research is that once a country elects a single demagogue they can create a political death spiral that can lead the country into financial ruin. With the long running debate around Trump’s demagoguery in the background, and the 2020 election on the horizon, we discuss Shadmehr’s findings.

Apr 08, 2020
Coronavirus And The Politics of Pandemics

Why don’t we prepare better for crises we know are coming? What effect will the coronavirus pandemic have on Trump’s 2020 chances? Should we even be having an election in the midst of a viral outbreak? On this episode, we turn to the best political science research to answer these questions and more about the politics behind COVID-19.

Mar 25, 2020
Is Polarization Pushing Us To Hate Each Other?

We’re constantly told by journalists and academics that America is too divided. That people no long just oppose members of the opposite party, but actually hate them. That something is broken, not just in our politics but in American life generally.

On this episode, we take these issues to one of the leading scholars in the world on polarization, Dr. Shanto Iyengar from Stanford University. We focus specifically on one of his papers,, that argues that affective polarization really has gotten as bad as the experts say, and we discuss what we can do about it.

Mar 11, 2020
Do Extremist Voters Dominate Primary Elections?
 Do primaries attract more extremist voters who skew elections toward candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? The common thought has always been that extremist voters, because of their intense passion on issues, are more likely to vote in primaries. But one scholar at UCLA says the real story is far more complicated.   On this episode, we speak with esteemed political scientist Lynn Vavreck about her paper on representation in primary elections, and what her research can tell us about the current democratic primary.   Paper: <a title="" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"></a>
Feb 26, 2020
The Troubling Economic Logic of Racially Charged Policies

Could racially charged policies cause you to act racist, even if you aren’t actually a racist? That’s the story two political scientists, Stephane Wolton and Torun Dewan from the London School of Economics and Political Science, tell in a recent paper:

On this episode, we discuss the possibly hidden story behind symbolic policies like the Trump administration’s border wall and Muslim travel ban, or Europe’s burqa bans. Could these racially charged policies really be about economics?

Feb 12, 2020
Do Divisive Primaries Actually Affect General Elections?

Do divisive primaries actually affect how candidates will perform in general elections? It's a question political scientist have been trying and failing to untangle, but we found someone who may have an answer.

With the 2020 democratic primary getting into full swing, we're kicking off our inaugural episode with prof. Alexander Fouirnaies whose research gives us new insights into the effects of divisive primaries and what we can expect from the 2020 Presidential election.

You can find Fouirnaies' paper about primaries here.

Jan 24, 2020