Category: Mark’s Hill Column

Ending irrational advantage in elections

Theories of voting abound, but most assume it’s a rational act. We might consider each candidate’s positions on issues and vote for the one closest to us, at least on the issues most important to us. Or perhaps we take a shortcut, deciding that most of the time one party or the other represents our

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Watergate Republicans vs. Trump Republicans

The Republicans of 1973/74 seem like a totally different breed than those we’re saddled with today. We recall them as facing the tribulations of Watergate determined to uncover the truth, whatever the consequences, and relentlessly demanding to know what the president knew and when he knew it, in the famous words of Sen. Howard Baker

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When it comes to polls, mode matters

With fewer people willing to be interviewed for surveys, pollsters fret about our samples no longer being representative. And if you don’t have a representative sample, there’s no reason to believe you’ve got an accurate poll. Pew Research found response rates plummeting from a none-too-high 36 percent in 1997, to a mere 9 percent in

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Three questions for Republicans

Not long ago, Republicans were pressing journalists to ask every Democrat whether they would vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.  Donald Trump chortled at the mention of her name, calling Pelosi the GOP’s “secret weapon” in the midterms, while party strategist Corry Bliss proclaimed his gratitude that “the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi,

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Trumping peace and prosperity

In 1952, Republicans successfully urged Americans to “Vote for peace; Vote for prosperity; Vote for Ike” (Eisenhower). Even before then, those two sets of issues — peace and prosperity — have been paramount in presidential elections and our politics more broadly. That seems to be changing, at least temporarily. The pervasive influence of those two

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Which is the right question?

Survey questions asking whether voters want to impeach and remove Donald Trump from office are now mesmerizing pundits and pols.  Important as it seems, it may be the wrong question on which to focus. Far more people want to impeach and remove Donald Trump from office today than wanted to take that action against either

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Learning from impeachments past

Surveys derive meaning from comparisons across time and space. With so little to go by, drawing conclusions about impeachments is difficult. If there’s one overriding lesson from polling in our two previous cases it’s that sometimes impeachment inflicts damage and sometimes it doesn’t. While perceptions of some aspects of Bill Clinton’s character clearly worsened, there is

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It’s not about the Benjamins, part II

When we perceive big consequences, we’re naturally inclined to search for big causes. Witnessing a political earthquake, we assume there must be huge tectonic shifts somewhere in the electorate.  After Israel’s recent election, commentators were seized with the revolutionary implications of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “loss.” But even if he ends up the loser (which, as

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It’s not about the Benjamins

Commentators quickly declared Benjamin “Benny” Gantz the winner in Israel’s election over incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. While it seemed likely some Benjamin would emerge victorious, the race wasn’t really about the Benjamins (more about that next week), and Israel’s political system means there won’t be a clear “winner” for weeks. Understanding where we

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The most important moment in history?

We’re practically raised to believe that debates impact election results in big ways. Millions watch, candidates spend countless hours preparing, media can’t stop talking, and writing, about them.  And, after all, we’re taught debates are the way we should be making voting decisions.  They’ve just got to be game changers. But they’re not. After the

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