Category Archives: U.S. Politics

Republican SuperPAC Ad Complicates Baker’s Task

Go HERE to read this post at WGBHnews.org

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Coakley, Brown, & Baker and the difference between Senate and Guv elections

Success for Martha Coakley, Scott Brown, and Charlie Baker this November may depend on a proper appreciation of the difference between US Senate and gubernatorial elections.

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The Scott Brown-Barack Obama Correlation

Is there anyone whose political fortunes are more tied to President Barack Obama than Scott Brown? According to Joshua Miller in the Boston Globe today, Scott Brown riding an anti-Obama wave in N.H.  Obama played a large role in electing Brown in Massachusetts in 2010, Obama atop the ballot helped usher out the Scott Brown Era in Massachusetts in 2012 (and Brown himself out of Massachusetts), and Obama’s unpopularity may help usher Brown into yet another Senate seat in 2014.

Before we get back to New Hampshire though, le me return again to what really mattered in 2010. No, it wasn’t Martha Coakley’s supposed gaffes.

My University of Massachusetts at Boston colleagues Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen produced a working paper for the Roosevelt Institute, 1,2,3, Many Tea Parties that offered a much more likely explanation for the Democrats’ demise in 2010 than Coakley taking the days around Christmas off: the failure of Obama and the Democrats to address the economic devastation being felt by American working and middle-class families.

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We’re Not Data Points. We’re Citizens.

Wilson Carey McWilliams was a wonderful political scientist and one of the best political essayists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His tools of analysis were not statistical computations but his education in classical liberalism, his understanding of thinkers from Aristotle to de Tocqueville and beyond. Every four years he contributed an essay on the meaning of the presidential election, which were eventually collected into a book titled The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1976-1994. I’ve been re-reading it lately.

I can’t imagine what Prof. McWilliams would make of “Big Data.” Not much I guess. He didn’t write of dependent variables and crosstabs. He wrote of the soul of democracy and the experience of the citizen in a democracy that seemed to be inexorably drifting away. So let me offer some of the thoughts of the late Prof. McWilliams on how the citizen experienced the campaign of 1988. I’ll then see if I can’t contribute something to his thoughts as musings on where we find ourselves in 2014.

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Facebook US Senate Forecast, 9/17/2014 Edition

More from UMassAmherst political science doctoral candidates Matthew MacWilliams, Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns and their Facebook Forecast Model, which predicts the outcome in US Senate races including the Senator Jeanne Shaheen-Scott Brown contest in New Hampshire. MacWilliams et al. have been busy with posts on The Hill and their own Hashtagdemocracy. Also, MacWilliams answers an important methodological question raised in response to last week’s post. See below.

From The Hill: “With eight weeks left before the 2014 midterm elections, our Facebook Campaign Forecasting Model predicts that Republicans will pickup five Senate seats in November. Three of these are from toss-up races we are presently tracking – see www.hashtagdemocracy.com for more details.”

From Hashtagdemocracy check out the tables covering the states being covered by the Facebook Forecasting project updated through September 10.

Here is the methodological question raised last week, and Matt’s answer:

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Facebook Forecast: Jeanne Shaheen to Defeat Scott Brown

Tuesday morning we brought you a posting from UMass Amherst political science doctoral candidates Matt MacWilliams, Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns in which they used their Facebook Forecasting Model to predict a win for Scott Brown in the New Hampshire Republican primary for U.S. Senate – not an earth shattering prediction. They have just completed data analysis for the general election and have a daring prediction for the race. Read on for how they see the race, and how they did it.

Early this week, we used Scott Brown’s surging Facebook PTAT to predict that Brown would walk away with the Republican nomination for Senate in New Hampshire. With the primary behind us, we can now apply our full Facebook Forecasting Model to the Senator Jeanne Shaheen/Brown contest. The model produces a weekly two-candidate election forecast. Over time, the weekly prediction also provides a dynamic track of which way a race is moving. Our forecast for New Hampshire predicts that Senator Shaheen is on track to hold her seat with 56% of the vote.

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An Efficient, Democracy-Enhancing Proposal: Move Municipal Elections to Even Years

It is primary election day in Massachusetts. To political scientists like me, primary election days are akin to excitement levels felt on one’s birthday around age 11. It’s big. The general election is the gift motherload though: Christmas.

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Facebook Metrics Predict Scott Brown Primary Win

We’ve posted from our friend UMass Amherst doctoral candidate Matt MacWilliams in the past with news of his Senate forecasting model using data from Facebook. Today we welcome another post from Matt and his UMass Amherst colleagues Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns. Their Facebook model is strongly suggestive that Scott Brown will capture the Republican nomination for the US Senate in New Hampshire later today. Of even more interest, they are going to use Facebook to forecast the winner in the Scott Brown-Senator Jeanne Shaheen final. They’ll do this on their blog #hashtagdemocracy and have generously agreed to cross post here. Enjoy this new and interesting approach to forecasting senate elections.

Can publicly-available data from the Facebook pages of candidates for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire tell us anything about who will win come Election Day next Tuesday and in November? If what we learned during the 2012 elections is any guide, the answer may be a whole lot.

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From the Archives: Lincoln and Religion

Even on vacation I think of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. It beats the latest polling news, which I don’t get anyway.

Religion in Politics: It’s Not the Certainty, It’s the Doubt

One of the most fascinating columns I’ve read in some time is from the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh, his Gay Marriage: A Look Back After 10 Years.  He vividly recalls the turmoil at the State House as conservatives fought to overturn the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision. Lehigh especially decried “fanatics and fundamentalists” “who believed they had a direct line to God.” It’s enough to make many of us wish religion would just go away from American politics.

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Politics by other means in Texas

In Texas, the stars at night are big and bright, shining a light on another attempt to criminalize politics.

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