Swat Alums, Professors Respond to 2012 Election

New York MagazineThe Polls Ultimately Ended Up Making Sense - But Next Time, Who Knows?

by Jason Zengerle '96

But dark ages or not, the polls - with a few notable exceptions (cough, Rasmussen) - turned out to be right. And the polling outfit that had as good a performance as any was one that may have sparked even more pre-election conservative ire than Silver. Public Policy Polling, a small polling firm in North Carolina, conducted a whopping 255 public polls in 2012, and it often seemed like polling skeptics (and even other pollsters) had a bone to pick with each one. This was partly because PPP uses automated dialers. It was also because PPP is a Democratic polling firm. But when the results came in, PPP's polls had called all 50 states correctly in the presidential race (assuming Florida ultimately goes to Obama), every Senate race, and every important ballot initiative. Its private polling - like the 23 surveys it did of Kentucky legislative races for one client - was similarly on the mark. ...

Jason Zengerle '96 is contributing editor at  New York Magazine and GQ. He writes about politics, culture, and occasionally college basketball. His work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications; and it has been anthologized in several books, including The Best American Political Writing and The Best American Medical Writing.


Slate: A Vast Left-Wing Competency

by Sasha Issenberg '02

A polarizing incumbent wins a closely fought but decisive re-election despite mixed public opinion about his first term. His lead was steady and consistent throughout, and he was boosted on Election Day by strong turnout from core constituencies despite suggestions that his supporters could suffer from weakened enthusiasm the second time. The storyline was clear: The president won in large part because of superior tactics and improved technique. ...

Sasha Issenberg '02 is a columnist for Slate and the Washington correspondent for Monocle. He covered the 2008 presidential campaign for The Boston Globe as a national political correspondent and has written for New York MagazineThe New York Times Magazine, and George, where he served as a contributing editor. He is also the author of The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy (2007).


Radio Times (WHYY): Facts, Lies, and the 2012 Election

with Brendan Nyhan '00

In a presidential election where each candidate accused the other of playing lose with the facts, in the end each campaign, to some degree, was guilty of misrepresenting the truth. As a result, what we saw was an unprecedented rise in journalists turning into fact checkers in print, online, and on television and radio. They had to work harder and faster to keep up with the false claims, exaggerations and downright lies that shaped the political discourse. But were their efforts effective and did they make a difference? Did the public pay any attention and do voters even care about the facts? And why and how can politicians get away with it? Our guest is Darthmouth professor of government Brendan Nyhan0 ['00].

Brendan Nyhan '00 is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. From 2001-2004, Nyhan was an editor of Spinsanity, a non-partisan watchdog of political spin that was syndicated in Salon and the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2004, he published All the President's Spin, a New York Times bestseller that Amazon.com named one of the 10 best political books of the year.


The AtlanticMove Over Economists: We Need a Council of Psychological Advisers

by Barry Schwartz, Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action

Though President Obama won reelection decisively, he won't have much time to celebrate. Many of the nation's problems - stimulating employment, reducing the deficit, controlling health-care costs, and improving the quality of education - are very serious, and some of them must be addressed with great urgency. And none of these problems can be addressed simply by waving a magic government wand. To a significant degree, they all involve understanding what motivates current practices - of business-people, financiers, doctors, patients, teachers, students - and what levers we may be able to use to change those practices. ...

Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action Barry Schwartz's work explores the social and psychological effects of free-market economic institutions on moral, social, and civic concerns. In Practical Wisdom (2011), which Schwartz co-wrote with Kenneth Sharpe, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science, the authors argue that without such wisdom, neither detailed rules nor clever incentives will be enough to solve the problems we face. He is also the author The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less and The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life