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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Try asking someone in the real estate business

This came in the email: Dear Professor Gelman, Hi. My name is ** and I am a 5th grade student at ** School in **, NY. I am in Mr. **’s class and we are working on our graduating project called Capstone! I am studying how how President Trump’s business life affects his job as […]

Mike Bostock graphs federal income tax brackets and tax rates, and I connect to some general principles of statistical graphics

Mike “d3” Bostock writes: Regarding the Vox graph on federal tax brackets, here is a quick-and-dirty visualization of effective tax rates for a given taxable income and year. However, there is a big caveat: estimating the effective tax rate based on actual income is much harder since it depends on the claimed deductions. This could […]

Taxes and data visualization

Nadia Hassan writes: Vox has a graph of tax rates over time. Their visualizations do convey that tax rates for high earners have declined over time and tax brackets are fewer now, but it seems like there are more appealing and intuitive ways to display that. I agree. This visualization reminds me a lot of […]

Support for presidential candidates at elite law firms in 2012 and 2016

Paul Campos writes: Thought these data were extreme enough to be of general interest. OK, before you click on the link, here’s the story: Campos looked up the presidential campaign contributions at 11 top law firms. (I’m not sure where his data came from; maybe the same source as here?) Guess what percentage of contributions […]

San Francisco housing debate: A yimby responds

Phil Price recently wrote two much-argued-about posts here and here on the yimby (“yes in my backyard”) movement in San Francisco. One of the people disagreeing with him is Sonja Trauss, who writes: Phil makes a pretty basic mistake of reasoning in his post, namely, that the high income residents of the proposed new housing […]

The Other Side of the Night

Don Green points us to this quantitative/qualitative meta-analysis he did with Betsy Levy Paluck and Seth Green. The paper begins: This paper evaluates the state of contact hypothesis research from a policy perspective. Building on Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) influential meta-analysis, we assemble all intergroup contact studies that feature random assignment and delayed outcome measures, […]

How is a politician different from a 4-year-old?

A few days ago I shared my reactions to an op-ed by developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik. Gopnik replied: As a regular reader of your blog, I thought you and your readers might be interested in a response to your very fair comments. In the original draft I had an extra few paragraphs (below) that speak […]


I think there’s something wrong this op-ed by developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, “4-year-olds don’t act like Trump,” and which begins, The analogy is pervasive among his critics: Donald Trump is like a child. . . . But the analogy is profoundly wrong, and it’s unfair to children. The scientific developmental research of the past 30 […]

What’s the deal with the YIMBYs?

This post is not by Andrew. It is by Phil. There’s at least one thing people in San Francisco seem to agree on: the rent is too damn high. The median rent is between about $3000 and $3500 per month…for a one-bedroom apartment. High-tech workers and upper-echelon businesspeople can afford a place, but baristas and […]

Mockery is the best medicine

[cat picture] I’m usually not such a fan of twitter, but Jeff sent me this, from Andy Hall, and it’s just hilarious: The background is here. But Hall is missing a few key determinants of elections and political attitudes: subliminal smiley faces, college football, fat arms, and, of course, That Time of the Month. You […]

“Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz sent me his new book on learning from data. As is just about always the case for this sort of book, I’m a natural reviewer but I’m not really the intended audience. That’s why I gave Dan Ariely’s book to Juli Simon Thomas to review; I thought her perspective would be more relevant […]

What’s the difference between the French and U.S. presidential elections? Political parties.

Consider a national election with the following four major candidates, from right to left: – Populist far-right nativist – Religious conservative – Center-left technocrat – Populist anti-corporate leftist In the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, these four candidates received 21%, 20%, 24%, and 20%, respectively. In the United States, these candidates were […]

The Aristocrats!

[cat picture] I followed a link from Tyler Cowen to the book, “Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest,” by Mark Zupan (but not this Mark Zupan, I think). The link points to the book’s Amazon page, and here’s the very first blurb: ‘In the tradition of Parkinson’s Law, this fascinating and novel […]

This one came in the email from July 2015

Sent to all the American Politics faculty at Columbia, including me: RE: Donald Trump presidential candidacy Hi, Firstly, apologies for the group email but I wasn’t sure who would be best prized to answer this query as we’ve not had much luck so far. I am a Dubai-based reporter for **. Donald Trump recently announced […]

Donald Trump’s nomination as an unintended consequence of Citizens United

The biggest surprise of the 2016 election campaign was Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for president. A key part of the story is that so many of the non-Trump candidates stayed in the race so long because everyone thought Trump was doomed, so they were all trying to grab Trump’s support when he crashed. […]


Jochen Weber writes: As I follow your blog (albeit loosely), I figured I’d point out an “early release” paper from PNAS I consider to be “garbage” (at least by title, and probably by content). The short version is, the authors claim to have found the neural correlate of a person being “cognizant of” the outcome […]

No evidence that providing driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants in California decreases traffic safety

[cat picture] So. A reporter asked me what I thought of this article, “Providing driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants in California improves traffic safety,” by Hans Lueders, Jens Hainmueller, and Duncan Lawrence. It’s embargoed! so I’m not supposed to post anything on it until now. From the abstract: We examine the short-term effects of . […]

Probability and Statistics in the Study of Voting and Public Opinion (my talk at the Columbia Applied Probability and Risk seminar, 30 Mar at 1pm)

Probability and Statistics in the Study of Voting and Public Opinion Elections have both uncertainty and variation and hence represent a natural application of probability theory. In addition, opinion polling is a classic statistics problem and is featured in just about every course on the topic. But many common intuitions about probability, statistics, and voting […]

Hey, we’re hiring a postdoc! To work on survey weighting! And imputation!

Here’s the ad: The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the Columbia Population Research Center are seeking a postdoctoral scholar with a PhD in economics, statistics, public policy, demography, social work, sociology, or a related discipline, to lead the development of survey weights and missing data imputations for the New York City […]

Never say die

Adam Levine, Jake Bowers, and Don Green write that they are launching a new website to facilitate research collaborations with NGOs and government agencies: New online matchmaking platform for research collaborations Today we’re announcing an exciting new opportunity for researchers interested in partnering with people from government and/or the nonprofit sector. Research4impact is a new […]