Category: Mark’s Hill Column

Reforming police in America

Americans are demanding police reform. And it’s not just those who’ve taken to the streets. It’s folks sitting at home in every demographic subgroup of this country. Whether George Floyd’s murder represents a long-term turning point in public opinion or a massive, but temporary, bump, we can’t know for a while. But the current demand

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Race and empathy

Empathy — our ability to imagine ourselves as another, to feel what another person is feeling—is central to America’s conversation about race. But our ability to empathize is limited by our experience. Most of us have endured physical pain, suffered the loss of parent, been rejected by a significant other and failed to achieve a

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Just how important are the issues?

Many commentators reported perplexity. How could Democratic primary voters be endorsing Bernie Sanders’s policy proposals by large margins, but casting ballots for Joe Biden? Answers fall into at least two categories, both with broader implications. First, a single poll question on a complex topic rarely reveals a complete portrait of public opinion. Second, issues rarely decide elections.

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Geography and gerrymander

Corrupt GOP gerrymandering is rampant and I’m proud to have played a small role in ending it in Michigan, through the victory of Proposition 2, which transfers the power to draw district lines from politicians to an independent commission. However, Democrats would be foolish to imagine that Republican conspiracies are the root of all our problems translating

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Do party platforms matter for candidates?

In a political system featuring entrepreneurial politicians who work to fashion their own images, and in an era of weak parties, commentators commonly dismiss the significance of party platforms. “Who cares what ‘the party’ says,” the conventional wisdom goes, “candidates will do what they want.” While there’s some truth in this caricature, history suggests it’s

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Reputations of leaders in crises

Leaders frequently forge their reputations in crises. In normal times, competition for the public’s attention is fierce. Crises, by contrast, put leaders at the center of our focus. Almost every eye is firmly fixed on them. A Business Insider poll found two-thirds of Americans watching the president’s near daily briefings, with a total of 88

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The primary difference

Juxtaposing the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries creates something like an experiment. Two different candidates, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, faced the same opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in many of the same states, with the same potential electorate. Yet the results were quite different. Biden did far better than Clinton. Adding a bit to work by Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight,

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Two crises

For the last two decades, one corner of political science has been consumed by a debate over whether shark attacks off the New Jersey shore cost Woodrow Wilson votes in the 1916 presidential election. While this seemingly arcane discussion may remind practitioners of the medieval debate (or perhaps it was a 17th century controversy, even

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Is there a Sanders turnout surge?

As noted here previously, the walking national disaster that is Donald Trump has focused Democrats on electability like never before. Primary voters are consistently more interested in a candidate who can defeat Trump than in one who reflects their views on issues. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) core electability argument, repeated regularly at his rallies, brags that his “is

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Should the majority rule?

We throw around phrases like “majority rule” with abandon, but often without giving much thought to their actual meaning. Americans assume they elect their public officials by majority rule. Most of the time they’re right, but not because that is, in fact, the rule. Rather it’s simply a byproduct of the two-party system. “Majority rule”

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