Brendan Nyhan


Does Obama Face a Racial Double Standard?

Writing in The Nation, Tulane political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry suggests that President Obama may be suffering from “liberal electoral racism,” which she defines as “the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.” After arguing that Obama’s record of progressive achievements is comparable to President Clinton’s, she… Read more »

Beware Early General Election Trial Heats

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that President Obama leading Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in the prospective general election polls known as trial heats. New TNR columnist/blogger Timothy Noah suggested that Obama’s standing was “remarkable” and that the poll showed that the GOP candidates “are unable to capitalize on the miserable state of… Read more »

New Research on Political Misperceptions

My co-author Jason Reifler and I have just posted a new manuscript (PDF) titled “Opening the Political Mind? The effects of self-affirmation and graphical information on factual misperceptions.” It’s one of the followups to our Political Behavior article (PDF) on resistance to corrective information. Here’s the abstract: People often resist information that contradicts their preexisting… Read more »

Why Candidates Win: Tactics vs. Fundamentals

Today’s NYT news analysis by Jeff Zeleny offers a classic example of how journalists attribute political success to tactical strategies. In the course of an article reviewing President Obama’s political standing, Zeleny notes that Obama’s approval is lower than that of Clinton and Reagan at this point in their terms, which he attributes to their… Read more »

Blaming Newt Gingrich for Polarization

Joe Nocera’s New York Times column yesterday featured Rep. Jim Cooper, a moderate Tennessee Democrat, lamenting the state of Congress. Unfortunately, Cooper almost completely misunderstands cause and effect in his diagnosis of legislative polarization, which focuses, as Nocera writes, on “the internal dynamics of Congress itself”: I thought it would be useful to ask Cooper… Read more »