There’s a lot of noise created by our constant news cycle, but few ways to grasp what’s really going on in politics today. Not Another Politics Podcast—launched and produced through the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy—provides a fresh perspective on the biggest political stories by focusing on research and data, not pundits and politicians.
Understand the political science beyond the headlines with Harris School of Public Policy Professors William Howell, Anthony Fowler, and Wioletta Dziuda.
Not Another Politics Podcast is produced by Matt Hodapp.
Episode 83 | March 15, 2023
How Does Representation Work?
There are two classic questions in political science research: how does representation work and how should it work? They’re crucial questions when it comes to designing a functioning democracy. This week, we dive into a paper that considers the questions that researchers have been trying to answer for decades.
Episode 82 | March 01, 2023
The Polarization Of State Legislatures
When we talk about polarization on this podcast it’s almost always in the context of Congress or the presidency. But are state legislatures polarizing as well? And, if they are, what can that tell us about the state of our democracy?
Episode 81 | February 15, 2023
Are We In A Period Of Global Democratic Decline?
The popular narrative these days is that democracies around the globe are backsliding. If we turn to countries like Hungary, Poland, and Venezuela, this threat certainly is true — authoritarian dictators have contributed to democratic decline. But what does the global picture reveal? Does the claim hold true?
Episode 80 | February 02, 2023
Political Brokers In India’s Most Marginalized Communities
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. However, a landmark paper on clientelism may have us rethink the dynamics of clientelism, and perhaps even holds some lessons for how to re-think the ideological view of politics as well.
Episode 79 | January 18, 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. Well, one political scientist from the University of Michigan, Walter Mebane believes he may have developed just such a toolkit.
Episode 78 | January 05, 2023
Why The U.S. Isn’t As Polarized As It Seems (Big Brains)
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.
Episode 77 | December 21, 2022
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.
Episode 76 | December 07, 2022
An International Look At Affective Polarization
We often talk about the rise of affective polarization in the United States, but rarely are the trends we observe domestically placed in an international context. What about Norway, Canada, New Zealand, Japan? What are the trends in global affective polarization, and can those trends teach us anything about what’s driving the increase in the US?
Episode 75 | November 23, 2022
Why Aren't There More 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? The reason we don’t have more moderate politicians is actually quite simple…there just aren’t any incentives for them to run.
Episode 74 | November 09, 2022
LIVE: How Members Of Congress Forge Relationships With Their Voters
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 consistencies. We often assume that voters cast their ballots based on ideology and policy, but it could it be more personal than that? In this episode, we explore our current elections and how representatives think about their interactions with their constituents.
Episode 73 | October 26, 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?
Episode 72 | October 12, 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. 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?
Episode 71 | September 28, 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?
Episode 70 | September 14, 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?
Episode 69 | August 31, 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?
Episode 68 | August 17, 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?
Episode 67 | August 03, 2022
Best Of: Does Ranked Choice Reduce Strategic Voting?
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.
Episode 66 | July 22, 2022
Did Voter Turnout Drop in Communities of Color After Shelby?
When the Shelby County v. Holder 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? In this episode, we speak to The University of Rochester's Mayya Komisarchik about the impacts of the Shelby decision and whether our fears about countermobilization and voter suppression tactics have held true.
Episode 65 | July 06, 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?
Episode 64 | June 22, 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 consider what the data tell us about how consistent the Supreme Court has been at honoring precedent.
Episode 63 | June 08, 2022
Revealing New Data On Who Donates To Campaigns
Georgetown University Economist Laurent Bouton digs through new data to answer fundamental questions about campaign donations: 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?
Episode 62 | May 25, 2022
Best Of: Fixing the Filibuster
As the academic year draws to a close, listen to one of our favorite episodes, interrogating a radically different proposal to fix the filibuster rather than abolishing it altogether.
Episode 61 | May 11, 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.
Episode 60 | April 27, 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?
Episode 59 | April 13, 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.
Episode 58 | March 30, 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?
Episode 57 | March 19, 2022
How Concerned Should We Be About Partisan Election Officals?
Elections have always been heated in America. But with Republican narratives around a “stolen” 2020 election, and fears that newly elected administrators will sway 2024, concern about the power of election officials is at a high. While it's true that some election officials are nonpartisan, in a lot of counties, local elections officials are elected by voters and they run as members of a political party. Why wouldn't they tilt an election in their party's favor?
Episode 56 | March 03, 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.
Episode 55 | February 16, 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.
Episode 54 | February 02, 2022
How Redistribution And Beliefs About Meritocracy Go Hand In Hand
There’s no question that people in the United States have very different beliefs about meritocracy and redistribution than do people in Europe. But how did these two groups end up in these divergent equilibria? And can anything be done to shift from one to the other?
Episode 53 | January 19, 2022
How A Single Lie In A Crisis Can Destroy Trust In Government
We’re living through a crucial moment for public trust in government. Conflicting and contradictory political and scientific messaging during the coronavirus pandemic seems to have eroded public trust on both sides of the aisle. But what do we know about how governments could avoid further decreases in trust, and how persist these effects can be?
Episode 52 | January 05, 2022
Can More Information On A Bill Change Votes?
We like to think that our legislators know exactly what’s in the proposals they vote on. But how can we know for sure and, if they don’t know, can simply providing them more information change the way they would vote?
Episode 51 | December 15, 2021
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?
Episode 50 | December 01, 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!
Episode 49 | November 17, 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.
Episode 48 | November 03, 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?
Episode 47 | October 21, 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?
Episode 46 | October 13, 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. 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?
Episode 45 | September 23, 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?
Episode 44 | September 08, 2021
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.
Episode 43 | August 25, 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. Is there a different, better system out there?
Episode 42 | August 11, 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?
Episode 41 | July 28, 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?
Episode 40 | July 14, 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?
Episode 39 | June 30, 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. Our hosts examine a new paper that puts this theory to the test.
Episode 38 | June 16, 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?
Episode 37 | June 02, 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.
Episode 36 | May 19, 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.
Episode 35 | May 12, 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.
Episode 34 | April 21, 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.
Episode 33 | April 07, 2021
Why Democrats Should Move To The Suburbs If They Want To Win Elections
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.
Episode 32 | March 24, 2021
The Institutional Racism of Land-Use Regulation
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.
Episode 31 | March 10, 2021
Are Media Echo Chambers As Big As We Think?
A new paper by Andrew Guess, Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton, provides a completely unique data set that complicates our assumptions about America’s “echo chambers” and media diets.
Episode 30 | February 24, 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?
Episode 29 | February 10, 2021
A New Theory of Political Scandals
In a recent paper, “Political Scandal: A Theory,” our very own Wioletta Dziuda and Will Howell 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.
Episode 28 | January 27, 2021
The State of Our Democracy, with James Robinson
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.
Episode 27 | January 13, 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?
Episode 26 | December 30, 2020
Best Of: Are We Really Living In Separate Worlds?
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.
Episode 25 | December 16, 2020
Do Government Programs Get People More Involved In Politics?
There was an extensive research initiative done on the roll out of the Medicaid 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 the question of whether giving people resources through government programs increases their involvement in politics.
Episode 24 | December 02, 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.
Episode 23 | November 19, 2020
The Politics of Distraction
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.
Episode 22 | November 09, 2020
What Just Happened?: Just Another Politics Podcast
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.
Episode 21 | October 22, 2020
Reining In The Supreme Court
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.
Episode 20 | October 13, 2020
The Vice Presidential Debate: Just Another Politics Podcast
On this second edition of the "Just Another Politics Podcast Special", we join our fellow political podcasts in sitting back in our armchairs and sharing our thoughts on the Presidential debate.
Episode 19 | October 05, 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.
Episode 18 | September 23, 2020
How To Really "Get Out The Vote"
On this episode, we debate the effectiveness of get-out-the-vote strategies and the implications for the 2020 election, starting with research from Columbia University Professor Donald Green.
Episode 17 | September 10, 2020
October Surprises and the 2020 Election
On this episode, we discuss research that could change the way we view “October surprises”.
Episode 16 | August 26, 2020
Discrimination: Why Women Outperform Men in Congress
We examine a paper by Profs. Christopher Berry and Sarah Anzia that assesses discrimination against women in elections by testing how women perform once in office.
Episode 15 | August 12, 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.
Episode 14 | July 29, 2020
Should We Make It Illegal Not To Vote?
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.
Episode 13 | July 15, 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.
Episode 12 | July 01, 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.
Episode 11 | June 17, 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.
Episode 10 | June 03, 2020
Do Politicians Vote With Their Donors When Voters Are Distracted?
Professor Jorg Spenkuch from Northwestern University provides insight that political accountability takes a big hit during disasters.
Episode 9 | May 20, 2020
Does The Media Really Affect Elections?
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?
Episode 8 | May 06, 2020
The Surprising New Data On Vote-By-Mail
One of the concerns of the coronavirus is how we’ll handle voting in the 2020 election. A recent paper from soon to be Asst. Prof at UCLA, Dan Thompson, gives us the best data yet on how vote-by-mail effects turn out and partisans differences in election.
Episode 7 | April 22, 2020
Are Democrats And Republicans Really Living In Separate Worlds?
One of the stories of the coronavirus outbreak has been that Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on a shared set of facts about the virus. But groundbreaking research from political scientist Gregory Huber at Yale University questions the narrative.
Episode 6 | April 08, 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.
Episode 5 | March 25, 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 political science.
Episode 4 | March 11, 2020
Is Polarization Pushing Us To Hate Each Other?
We’re constantly told that America is too divided. That we no long just oppose members of the opposite party, but actually hate them. That something is broken in American life.
Episode 3 | February 26, 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 idea has always been that their extremism makes them more likely to vote in primaries. But political scientist Lynn Vavreck says the real story is far more complicated in her paper.
Episode 2 | February 12, 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 scholars, Stephane Wolton and Torun Dewan from the London School of Economics and Political Science, tell in a recent paper.
Episode 1 | January 24, 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.