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On Tuesday, for the first time since 1960, Rhode Island Democrats managed to win all nine major offices on the ballot: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, general treasurer, U.S. senator, 1st District congressman, 2nd District congressman, and Providence mayor, according to a WPRI.com review of past election results.
Democrats have had big years before – Republicans won no federal races in 2012, 2008, 2004 or 1996, for example – but it’s been 54 years since the party won all nine of those top offices in a single November election.
Democrat Gina Raimondo won the governor’s race by a slightly wider margin than first thought.
The R.I. Board of Elections updated its count on Wednesday to include the results from roughly 15,000 voters who used mail ballots. Those mail ballots increased Raimondo’s total number of votes to 131,452, a jump of about 8,000 from the preliminary results.
Republican Allan Fung’s total votes rose to 117,106 and Moderate Bob Healey’s rose to 69,070 with mail ballots included. Raimondo received more than half the votes for governor cast by mail ballot. Fung received about 2,000 more votes than John Robitaille did in 2010, a 2% increase. Robitaille was running in a four-way against a former Republican U.S. senator (Lincoln Chafee) and two other candidates with moderate policy priorities (Frank Caprio and Ken Block).
The results in the governor’s race now round to Raimondo 41%, Fung 36% and Healey 21%.
Overall Raimondo defeated Fung by a decisive 4.5 percentage points, or more than 14,000 votes, the biggest vote margin in a governor’s race since Don Carcieri’s first election in 2002.
Raimondo’s victory was entirely thanks to the city of Providence, which she took by a plurality of about 16,000 votes; in Rhode Island’s other 38 cities and towns, Fung beat her by nearly 2,000 votes combined. Turnout in Providence was higher than four years ago as voters decided the high-profile mayoral race.
Raimondo won with more votes than Lincoln Chafee, who received 123,571 in 2010. Excluding Chafee, however, Raimondo received the smallest number of votes for a victorious gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island since 1930, when Republican Norman Case won with 112,070, historical records show.
Here are the margins in all the big races with mail ballots included:
- Governor: Raimondo 41%, Fung 36%, Healey 21%
- Providence Mayor: Elorza 52%, Cianci 45%, Harrop 3%
- Lt. Governor: McKee 54%, Taylor 34%, Gilbert 8%, Jones 3%
- Secretary of State: Gorbea 60%, Carlevale 39%
- Attorney General: Kilmartin 57%, Hodgson 43%
- General Treasurer: Magaziner 57%, Almonte 43%
- U.S. Senate: Reed 71%, Zaccaria 29%
- 1st District: Cicilline 60%, Lynch 40%
- 2nd District: Langevin 62%, Reis 38%
In Cranston, despite the presence of the city’s mayor on the ballot, turnout this year was the lowest in the past four gubernatorial elections, with only 26,935 ballots cast for governor there. Fung won Cranston with 14,820 votes or 55% of the total, above Lincoln Chafee’s 9,499 (35%) in 2010 but lower than Don Carcieri’s 16,938 (52%) in 2006 or Carcieri’s 16,959 (58%) in 2002.
Eight Rhode Island communities have voted Republican in the last four gubernatorial elections: Coventry, Exeter, Foster, Hopkinton, Lincoln, Narragansett, Richmond and Scituate.
Only one community voted Democratic for governor all four times: Central Falls. Three others voted in 2010 for Lincoln Chafee (then an independent, now a Democrat) and for Democrats the other three times: East Providence, Pawtucket and Providence.
This post has been updated and expanded.
The sizable shortfall in Providence’s pension system for retired city workers has become a major topic of discussion in this year’s race for mayor, with facts and figures flying fast and furious.
To help you sort out facts from fiction, here are three charts that give an overview of the city pension fund’s finances over the last two decades under three mayors: Buddy Cianci (1991-2002), David Cicilline (2003-2011) and Angel Taveras (2011-present). The numbers come from the annual city audit.
First off, here’s a look at what’s called the “unfunded liability” in the pension fund – the official shortfall between how much the city has socked away and how much it would need to pay out promised benefits in full, as reported by the city’s actuary. For a variety of reasons, the shortfall grew from $137 million in 1991 to $759 million in 2012. (The latest audit isn’t out yet, but the shortfall rose to $832 million in 2013.)
I owe Buddy Cianci a correction.
Numbers were flying fast and furious during Tuesday evening’s Providence mayoral debate, and I got mixed up during the section on pensions when Cianci was talking in calendar years as I was looking at city audits that are in fiscal years.
It happened when Cianci said the city “finally got up to 80% funded in 2002,” meaning that the city made 80% of its annual required contribution (ARC) to the pension fund that year. Knowing the numbers somewhat (and recalling that Cianci incorrectly said on a recent Newsmakers that he made 100% contributions in his final years), I said the city’s contribution was actually around 60% that year.
Cianci then clarified that the final budget he put together before his September 2002 resignation was for the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003. And indeed, the city audit shows Providence did make 80.25% of its annual required contribution to the pension fund in the 2002-03 fiscal year, which is the budget Cianci was putting together in the spring of 2002.
(To compound things, as I tried to separate calendar from fiscal years on the fly I misread the 2002 and 2003 numbers when I looked down at the pension page from the city audit, and incorrectly said he only made a 60.6% contribution in 2002 and a 64.18% contribution in 2003; that was in fiscal 2001 and fiscal 2002.)
On this point Cianci was right, and I was wrong: the Cianci administration did indeed increase Providence’s annual required contribution (ARC) to the pension fund from 60.6% in the 2000-01 fiscal year to 64.18% in the 2001-02 fiscal year and 80.25% in the 2002-03 fiscal year, his final budget.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
• Related: Providence’s troubled city pension fund, in four charts (Oct. 1)
Rhode Island may have 39 cities and towns, but the state doesn’t have an Electoral College, so it doesn’t matter how many different municipalities a candidate wins – run up the score enough in a few and you could conceivably win an election while losing a majority of the 39.
That’s not what happened in last week’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries; both Gina Raimondo and Allan Fung came out on top in a majority of the 39 cities and towns, with Raimondo winning 36 of them and Fung winning 28 of them.
But a closer look at the results shows a majority of Raimondo’s votes came from just seven cities and towns, while a majority of Fung’s votes came from only eight.
Raimondo’s top three cities for votes matched the state’s top three cities for population precisely: Providence (9,738 votes), Warwick (4,387) and Cranston (3,593). Her fourth-best community was Cumberland, only the eighth-biggest by population, which gave her 3,150 votes. Add in Pawtucket (2,912), North Providence (2,599) and East Providence (2,527), and you have a majority of Raimondo’s 54,041 accounted for. Her biggest outlier was probably Central Falls, which ranks 19th by population but was 30th for Raimondo votes. (Angel Taveras won the city with help from Mayor James Diossa.)
Raimondo got 50,041 votes total; here are the rankings with cumulative percentages:
- Providence: 9,738 (18%)
- Warwick: 4,387 (26%)
- Cranston: 3,593 (33%)
- Cumberland: 3,150 (39%)
- Pawtucket: 2,912 (44%)
- North Providence: 2,599 (49%)
- East Providence: 2,527 (54%)
Fung’s vote totals don’t match up as precisely with population centers. His top cities were his hometown of Cranston (3,040 votes) and Warwick (2,428), which together contributed almost one in three Fung votes. But his third-best town was North Kingstown (834), which ranks 13th by population, whereas the state’s biggest city, Providence, gave him only 616 votes, even fewer than Coventry (734). Another town with outsized impact was East Greenwich (512 votes), 26th by population but sixth for Fung votes. The rest of his majority came from South Kingstown (506) and East Providence (477).
Fung got 17,531 votes total; here are the rankings with cumulative percentages:
- Cranston: 3,040 (17%)
- Warwick: 2,428 (31%)
- North Kingstown: 834 (36%)
- Coventry: 734 (40%)
- Providence: 616 (44%)
- East Greenwich: 512 (47%)
- South Kingstown: 506 (49.5%)
- East Providence: 477 (52%)
The results in Central Falls were even more striking for Fung than for Raimondo. He won more votes on Block Island (36) than he did in Central Falls (26), even though the latter has 18 times more residents.
I know blogging has been rather – ahem – light here on Nesi’s Notes in recent months, with primaries and polls and debates keeping me cranking out main-site stories and TV coverage. But I never forget you, loyal NN readers, and I hope to get back to more regular blogging post-primary and particularly post-election.
For now, though, I have to take a moment and direct your attention to an exciting career milestone by my ace WPRI.com colleague Dan McGowan, who has been a huge asset to WPRI 12 and Nesi’s Notes since joining the team last year.
Politico Magazine – the political news site’s newish long-form-focused offshoot – just posted McGowan’s first-ever national story, a 3,000-plus-word look at the latest comeback attempt by Buddy Cianci. Click here to read it – a great tale, well told by Dan for locals and out-of-towners alike.
1. Mark your calendars: WPRI 12 and The Providence Journal will release a new exclusive Campaign 2014 poll next week. We asked Democratic primary voters whether they support Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo, Clay Pell or Todd Giroux for governor, whether they could still change their minds, and how they plan to vote in the other statewide primary races. We’ll release the first results live on WPRI 12 and WPRI.com Tuesday at 5 p.m. Tune in!
2. It’s safe to say this was not the best week of the campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung. Filming a TV ad in Ohio is a rational decision even if it opens you up to attacks; refusing to answer a reporter’s phone calls for 48 hours after he finds out you did so is just silly. Also interesting is the controversial Ohio consulting firm Fung is using: Strategy Group for Media, which BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins described in 2013 as “a campaign and strategy clearing house for the uncompromisingly conservative wing” of the House GOP. Indeed, nine Strategy Group employees – including founder Rex Elsass – donated a combined $6,850 to Fung’s campaign between May 29 and June 3, which will boost the candidate’s state matching funds if he makes it to the general election. (Fung allies were quick to point out that his rival Ken Block is using New Jersey-based Jamestown Associates, another controversial firm in Republican circles, but they’ve filmed Block’s ads locally.) Block criticized Fung as well for backing out of a cable-access debate scheduled for this week, which Fung’s campaign attributed to the candidate’s initial plans to attend the Asian American Journalists Association conference in Washington. (In the end, though, Fung decided to stay in Rhode Island.) These sorts of stories are hardly fatal to Fung’s campaign in and of themselves – few if any voters are going to pick a candidate based on his TV ad locations. But the negative headlines are an unwelcome distraction just three weeks before the primary. Plenty of Republicans seem open to Block despite his previous apostasies – he is, after all, a fiscally conservative businessman who rails against the Democratic General Assembly and played an instrumental role in killing the master lever. The result could come down to how high Fung can drive his vote totals in Cranston and Warwick.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Like Del’s, Victory Day is a uniquely Rhode Island tradition.
Rhode Island is the only state that still observes an official holiday marking Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. It’s been that way since 1975, when Arkansas dropped the holiday – having already rechristened it “World War II Memorial Day” – and reportedly gave state workers their birthdays off as a consolation.
I’m back! Happy Saturday. Here’s another edition of the weekend column here on WPRI.com - thank you to Dan McGowan for ably manning it in my absence. As always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow @tednesi on Twitter.
1. With less than a month left before voters go to the polls, the Democratic primary for governor shifted to a new phase this week as Angel Taveras went on the attack against Clay Pell, a major strategic shift by a candidate who spent the last month decrying negative campaigning by Gina Raimondo. It’s the strongest evidence yet that Pell’s largely self-funded campaign is indeed getting traction and becoming a real problem for the mayor. Taveras now has to put forward three messages at once: the case against Raimondo, the case against Pell, and the case for himself. That’s not easy to do, especially with the smallest budget of the three – perhaps Taveras needs a signature issue that will set him apart. (On Friday his campaign highlighted education, also a key focus for Pell.) To the extent it reinforces the idea that he’s a viable candidate, Pell supporters actually seemed pleased to see their candidate taking fire; Pell booster Bob Walsh of NEARI went so far as to suggest Taveras is now the spoiler, which surely made Taveras backers’ heads explode. The question of spoilers, though, isn’t going to go away as Gina Raimondo floats above the Taveras-Pell fight with her new positive ad. If Pell overtakes Taveras as Raimondo’s main rival, how high is he ceiling of support? Could he actually woo enough voters to win outright – or only enough to help the treasurer secure victory?
2. One reason Clay Pell has become a force in the Democratic primary: his spending on TV and radio advertising through mid-August will total $1.4 million, slightly more than the $1.3 million that Gina Raimondo will spend and way more than the $641,000 that Angel Taveras has booked, according to tracking figures from one of the campaigns. Taveras has also already booked another $255,000 between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9. All told the three Democrats have booked $3.6 million in commercial time on broadcast TV, cable and radio so far – and that’s before Pell or Raimondo buy anything after Aug. 18, as they surely will. Those dollar figures don’t tell the whole story, though, because the candidates are paying different amounts for the ads. By another metric – gross rating points – Raimondo is tops with 11,654 points through Aug. 18, compared with 8,534 points for Pell and 6,589 points for Taveras.
Thanks for reading the Saturday Morning Post while Ted was away. He’s back in action next week and like you, I couldn’t be happier. As always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. For quick hits all week long, follow @danmcgowan and @tednesi.
1. While the $3.1 million Clay Pell has already loaned his campaign is nearly as much as incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Republican Gov. Don Carcieri combined to spend on themselves for elections in 2002, 2006 and 2010, he hasn’t quite cracked the top of the list for campaign loans in Rhode Island. That honor goes to former state Sen. Myrth York, who spent just a shade under $4 million on herself during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2002. (York did win Democratic primaries in 1994, 1998 and 2002.) Although Pell’s personal fortune is the biggest story of the latest round of campaign finance reports – he’s up with yet another new commercial today – it’s worth noting that Gina Raimondo has now raised more than $5.66 million since launching her 2010 campaign for state treasurer. Put another way, Raimondo’s war chest has collected $18,099 in interest since 2010; that’s more than nine members of the Providence City Council currently have in their campaign accounts. The third contender in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, is no slouch himself when it comes to fundraising. Taveras still finished the second quarter with more than $1.3 million in the bank, but with two better-funded opponents, you have to wonder if he’s kicking himself for pushing so hard to ban outside spending in the race.
2. On the Republican side, businessman Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung know they’ll likely be outspent by the Democratic nominee, but all they have to do is call John Robitaille to learn how to run a competitive general election race. At the same point in 2010, the $40,190 in Robitaille’s campaign account was 43 times less than the amount held by Democrat Frank Caprio, who didn’t even have a primary. Robitaille went on to benefit from matching funds and some outside help from the Republican Governors Association, which you have to assume will happen for either Block or Fung again this time around. Block ended the quarter with $584,995 cash on hand, while Fung finished with $364,141.
There’s a new media giant in town: New Media Investment Group, GateHouse Media’s parent company, is buying The Providence Journal for roughly $46 million. The deal instantly gives GateHouse, a major force in Massachusetts newspapering, a huge foothold in Rhode Island less than a year after the company exited bankruptcy.
Jon Chesto is managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and a former business editor at the Patriot-Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, which GateHouse owns. A close follower of GateHouse, Chesto wrote a perceptive analysis of the Journal deal Tuesday night. He spoke with WPRI.com on Wednesday about the deal and what it means for the paper’s future. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Let’s start with the basics for people down here in Rhode Island. What is New Media Investment Group? What’s its relationship with GateHouse?
New Media Investment Group is a publicly traded company that’s an umbrella group that includes GateHouse and a number of companies that have been acquired by Fortress [Investment Group]. Prior to that it was an affiliate of Fortress that bought the Dow Jones community papers formerly known as Ottaway, and those were sort of the original New Media papers. There have been several papers since.
1. The Democratic lieutenant-governor primary between Frank Ferri, Dan McKee and Ralph Mollis isn’t exactly the hottest race in town, but it’s still a feisty fight. And it could matter: as Tim White points out, a lieutenant governor became governor 22 times between 2000 and 2010 alone. The three candidates met Friday for the second of this month’s pre-primary debates on Newsmakers to make their pitch for the votes – and attention – of viewers at home. The conventional wisdom has Mollis as the frontrunner in the race, and the debate will reinforce that thinking. The two-term secretary of state stayed calm and collected throughout, and kept his cool in the face of a blistering series of attacks on his record by McKee. The man had done his homework. McKee was on the offensive throughout the debate, jabbing Mollis – and occasionally Ferri too – about everything from 38 Studios to North Providence’s bond rating; he also spoke passionately about education policy. Ferri, a latecomer to the race, was understandably nervous and sometimes spoke haltingly in his first major debate with the other two. He eschewed attacks – other than one on Don Carcieri – and drew clear distinctions on issues such as health care, marijuana and immigration that could play well with progressives. Right now, though, it looks like Rhode Island could be in for a rematch between Mollis and Republican Catherine Taylor.
2. Frank Ferri has represented Warwick in the Rhode Island House since 2007, and he made some interesting comments during the debate when he expressed regret about his vote for the 2011 pension law championed by Gina Raimondo. “When we were presented with a pension reform, we thought we had the best offer on the table. We thought that was the best that we could get,” he said. “I know I worked hard on trying to lower the [retirement] age and a little more consideration to COLAs. But now we learn – after the court ordered that they go back into negotiations – there was a better deal. So knowing that there was a better deal, knowing now that not everybody that should have been at the table was at the table, I’m not sure how I would have voted back then.” In fact, he continued: “Now that I know there was a better deal for the workers I probably would have not voted for it back then.”
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in June, the lowest level in six years, and employers have added nearly 6,000 jobs since January. But not all industries have fared equally well in the recovery.
On the positive side, employment in the arts/entertainment/recreation industry has jumped by 21% since December 2006, the last month before the downturn began in Rhode Island, to 9,400. For raw jobs added, the leader is health care/social assistance, which has added 5,300 positions since the end of 2006.
On the negative side, two historically blue-collar occupations – construction and manufacturing – continue to struggle. Construction employment is still down by an eye-watering 27% compared with December 2006; there were 6,300 fewer people working in construction in June compared with back then. In raw numbers, the manufacturing sector has been hardest hit, down by 10,900 jobs since the end of 2006.
The public sector hasn’t been immune, either: local government employment is down 11% since 2006.
Here’s a look at how employment changed in each industry from December 2006 to June 2014 as defined and tracked by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. They are in order from most jobs added (health/social assistance) on the left to most jobs lost (manufacturing) on the right:
Good Afternoon from chief meteorologist Tony R Petrarca
FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING THROUGH
* FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS AND RHODE ISLAND.
* FROM 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
* MULTIPLE WAVES OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL MOVE ACROSS
SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THE FIRST WILL
OCCUR THIS EVENING WITH ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY TUESDAY INTO
WEDNESDAY. WHILE LOCALIZED FLASH FLOODING IS POSSIBLE AT
ANYTIME…THE GREATEST RISK APPEARS TO BE LATE TUESDAY INTO
WEDNESDAY. STORM TOTAL RAINFALL SHOULD RANGE BETWEEN 2 AND 4
INCHES…BUT LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE.
* FLASH FLOODING IS THE PRIMARY CONCERN…BUT SOME SMALL STREAM
FLOODING MAY OCCUR AS WELL.
A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD
TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.
YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION
SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED.
1. The three candidates running for general treasurer – Ernie Almonte, Frank Caprio and Seth Magaziner – squared off Friday in the first of this month’s pre-primary debates on Newsmakers, and the hour-long exchange gave a clear indication of how Caprio and Magaziner are pitching themselves to Democratic primary voters. Caprio, a familiar face, touted his record during his previous term in the treasurer’s office, casting himself as not only more experienced than Magaziner but also wiser today than he was when he made his botched run for governor. Even though he’s not technically the incumbent, in many ways Caprio is really running a re-election campaign, with all the advantages and challenges that implies. Magaziner is keeping a tight focus on the pension fund’s investment returns, and the need for the state to start matching the national average. (Cate Long might approve.) The 30-year-old is also trying to use his youth to his advantage by arguing the State House needs new faces, and to cast Caprio as a fair-weather Democrat who isn’t loyal to the party. Waiting in the wings is Almonte, a Democrat until last month who now has tacit GOP support for his independent bid. He emphasized his background as an accountant, suggesting the treasurer should be focused on math and money rather than partisan politics. That message could resonate in a state where one in two voters are registered independents, though non-party bids are always uphill battles.
2. Both Frank Caprio and Seth Magaziner are trying to navigate political tightropes in their campaigns. Caprio’s political profile was long that of a moderate or even conservative Democrat, and he’s acknowledged flirting with the Republican Party. Yet in his comeback bid for treasurer he’s striking a populist tone critical of Wall Street and high finance that wouldn’t be out of place with the party’s Elizabeth Warren wing: he strongly opposed the rehiring of the state’s longtime financial advisers at First Southwest, suggested the state is wasting money with hedge funds, and raised doubts about paying the 38 Studios bonds. All that sounds like an appeal to voters who dislike Gina Raimondo – but when asked to judge Raimondo’s work as treasurer, Caprio gave her an “A” grade. Magaziner, though, has challenges of his own. He is strongly supported by some progressives, who bonded with him while he was serving on the Marriage Equality Rhode Island board, and has won the endorsement of unions such as the National Education Association Rhode Island. Yet he’s also backed by some pro-Raimondo types who see him as the best option to protect her pension law, he is open to investing with hedge funds, and he supports paying the 38 Studios bonds. Meanwhile, a huge question remains unanswered: what will Bill and Hillary Clinton do to help Magaziner, the son of their old friend Ira?
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Frank Caprio’s comeback campaign won’t be getting public matching funds after all.
Caprio filed paperwork with the R.I. Board of Elections on June 23 saying he would participate this year in the state’s matching funds system, which provide money to help fund campaigns on a sliding scale based on how much the candidate raises, but a state official said Friday he isn’t allowed to get the money.
Rhode Island’s work force is getting older and older in the wake of the Great Recession.
The total number of Rhode Island workers ages 16 to 54 dropped by 55,000 between 2006 and 2013, while the number of workers ages 55 and older rose by 31,000, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey. Those totals include both employed and unemployed workers.
A total of 23% of Rhode Island workers were at least 55 years old in 2013, compared with 17% in 2006.
Here’s a chart comparing the number of workers in each age group in 2006 versus 2013:
While the growth in Rhode Island’s 55-plus labor force wasn’t enough to offset the decline in its 16-to-54-year-old one, the opposite was true across the broader population. The state’s civilian non-institutional population ages 16 and older grew by 7,000 between 2006 and 2013, thanks to a net gain of 54,000 residents ages 55 and up.
Rhode Island’s population losses between 2006 and 2013 were concentrated in one age group: 35- to 54-year-olds, whose overall number fell by 47,000 during that period – a 14% drop. That decline suggests middle-aged residents either left the state, aged out of the group but weren’t replaced by younger residents, or some combination of the two.
Adults between the ages of 25 and 54 are referred to by economists as “prime-age” workers because they are in the prime of their working lives – focusing on their careers, raising their families and saving for retirement.
Who says political scientists are stuck in the ivory tower? In recent years, blogs like The Monkey Cage have helped popularize poli sci research, taking an academic approach to the 24-hour news cycle and debunking long-held myths about government and elections.
John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, a Monkey Cage contributor and the co-author (with Lynn Vavreck) of a fascinating new book, “The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election.” Via email, Sides talked with me about what his research shows will really impact this year’s election in Rhode Island.
There are always books published soon after a major election that try to tell the story of how one side won and one side lost. What’s different about “The Gamble” from other campaign postmortems like “Game Change” or “Collision 2012″?
Other campaign postmortems do an excellent job using their access to campaigns to tell us why campaigns made the decisions they did. I think “The Gamble” helps to answer a different question, which is whether those decisions actually affected voters. To answer that question, you need the tools of social science, such as quantitative data and the ability to test hypotheses and rule out alternative explanations.