Archives for elections



For Fans of a Third Party: How About the Franco Dok Harris Ticket?

Last year, Franco “Dok”* Harris, son of football legend Franco Harris (about whom I once wrote a book) ran for mayor of Pittsburgh. He ran under the Franco Dok Harris Party. Read More »



How Much Does the President Really Matter?

After a throw-out-the-Dems mid-term election on Tuesday, with Republican promises to unwind Democratic legislation like healthcare reform and an economy that refuses to break into anything more than a cautious jog, we use the Freakonomics Radio podcast to pose a tough question: How much does the President of the United States really matter? Read More »



Did the Tea Party Help or Hurt the Republicans?

Is the Tea Party responsible for yesterday’s election results? Probably. But perhaps not in the way you were thinking.

Journalists have written thousands of pages describing the anger, fury or excitement of the Tea Party. But this isn’t how an economist would approach the question. Perhaps the single deepest idea in economics is the opportunity cost principle. And so it is worth asking: What is the opportunity cost of an active Tea Party movement? To figure this out, you need to ask, “or what?” Read More »



Yet One More Way in Which D.C. Is Like High School?

Happy Election Day, everyone! Please don’t read this before you vote.

And then don’t read this either. It’s a paper by Lauren Cohen and Christopher Malloy, both of Harvard Business School, and it’s called “Friends in High Places.” Read More »



Predicting the Outcome of Tomorrow's Midterm Election

The first academic paper I ever published was an empirical analysis of the “midterm gap” in American politics. (I couldn’t find an ungated version, but it’s not really worth reading anyway!) Read More »



Predicting the Midterm Elections: A Freakonomics Quorum

This year’s midterm elections promise to be a bit more eventful than usual, with predictions of seismic change in Congress and in many statehouses, most of it in a blue-to-red direction. But predictions aren’t elections; and even if the predictions hold true, what happens next? Read More »



Detecting Political Momentum Is Harder Than You Think

Over at FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver has a post attempting to debunk the idea that there is momentum in political campaigns. But I think he’s wrong. And his post provides a fun opportunity for a simple statistics lesson on the difficulty of discovering momentum. Read More »



Numbers Are Bad Liars

In a Washington Post op-ed, Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco claim that the truth lies in the digits of the vote count. Humans are bad at making up fraudulent numbers, they write, and the fact that the vote counts for the different provinces contain “too many 7′s and not enough 5′s in the last digit” and not enough non-adjacent digits points to made-up numbers. Read More »