Not Another Politics Podcast

By University of Chicago Podcast Network

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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
Where Are All The Moderate Politicians?
Oct 20, 2021
Are Americans “Politically Sophisticated”?
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?
Aug 25, 2021
How Much Should We Believe Surveys?
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