Eric Oliver on the “Bigot Belt”

Eric Oliver is a colleague of mine at the University of Chicago. He is the author of the absolutely fantastic book Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic. He has some new and interesting insights on the “Bigot Belt,” which he has generously written up for the Freakonomics blog. The Bigot Belt By […]

Election Exception Proves the Rule

On November 4, while votes were being counted all across the country, a strange thing happened in Mississippi. A woman named Janie Sisco won election as Lincoln County elections commissioner, unseating a 20-year incumbent — by just one vote. The final tally had Sisco beating Charles Monroe Smith 1,580 to 1,579. Assuming Sisco voted for […]

An Election Form Guide

Today, all eyes are on the U.S. presidential election. There’s certainly plenty to follow, and in my latest Wall Street Journal column, David Rothschild and I begin by highlighting the most interesting markets to track. The big one is obviously who will be the next president: Barack Obama‘s stock has risen in recent days, and […]

The Church Effect on Voters, and the History of Prediction Markets

Photo taken from Wolfgang Staudt and Daniel Morrison. Going to church probably causes you to vote, and election betting markets are nothing new. That’s the word from a pair of interesting new working papers. The first, by Alan Gerber, Jonathan Gruber, and Daniel M. Hungerman, makes clever use of a shock to the system — […]

A Political “Do Not Call” List

Dean Karlan has just published a cool op-ed in the Financial Times making the case for voting-commitment contracts. (Disclosure and shameless plug: Dean and I are both co-founders of, the free commitment service where anyone can make a binding commitment to vote on November 4th.) As Dean describes: Photo: Victor Nunez StickK can verify […]

When Is It O.K. to Vote Your Race?

Photo taken from Choctopus. The Times recently published a series of interesting articles about the role that race is playing in the current presidential election. Read this one and this one, but especially read this one by Adam Nagourney, which includes this passage: Saul Anuzis, the Republican chairman in Michigan, said he had become accustomed […]

Is Voting Dangerous for Your Health?

Photo: psd A couple years ago, we wrote a column called “Why Vote?” It didn’t advocate for people to not vote; it just argued that, because of the way the world works, there’s very little value in a single person’s voting. But according to Donald Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, […]

Can You Vote Your Way to Happiness?

Your vote, by itself, isn’t likely to deliver change. But casting your vote might make you just a little bit happier. That’s the theory of Julio Rotemberg, an economist at Harvard University, who thinks the major utility of voting might be that it makes us happier by helping us feel connected to people with whom […]

What Chance of Change Is Enough?

Obama in his acceptance speech included the lines: But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? […]

So Much for One Person, One Vote

Photo by whoohoo120 We live in a democratic society where each adult (except for some felons) gets one vote for president. Except for Oprah. She gets one million votes. A new study by Maryland economists Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore argues that Oprah doesn’t just sell books, she influences votes too. Using geographic variation in […]