Archive | Public Events

Who Cares about Budget Deficits?

We welcome another guest post from Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler.


With Republican deficit hawks digging in on the sequester, liberal politicians and pundits have been quick to point out the GOP’s silence on this issue during George W. Bush’s presidency (e.g. here, here, and here).  Of course, prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama, who used the mounting debt to criticize the previous administration, aren’t exactly a model of consistency on the deficit either.

This sharp reversal in elite partisan discourse about the debt since Obama took office should produce profound shifts in public opinion, especially amongst the most informed Democrats and Republicans.  For, as John Zaller’s groundbreaking account of public opinion demonstrates, the best informed partisans are quickest to update their beliefs in response to elites’ position changes because they are most likely to receive those messages.

Consistent with that expectation, the figure below shows a dramatic shift between 2007 and 2011 in the importance well-informed partisans placed on the federal budget deficit.  The display graphs out the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who thought the federal budget deficit was at least a very important issue in 2007-2008 AP/Yahoo Election Panel Study and the baseline wave of the 2011-2012 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project (CCAP).  The responses of Democrat and Republicans are broken down by their level of political information, which captures how much attention they pay to politics.  It is important to note that the 2007 and 2011 percentages are not directly comparable because the issue importance response options and political awareness items were different in the two surveys.  Yet the shift is unmistakable nonetheless.

Back in December 2007, politically attentive Democrats were 20 percentage points more likely than politically attentive Republicans to say that the federal budget deficit was at least a very important issue.  Four years later, though, the most politically attentive Republicans were now a whopping 60 points more likely than their Democratic counterparts to say the deficit is very important.

Contrary to some recent media claims that the deficit is an issue average Americans care about, it appears that public perceptions of the debt’s importance are fundamentally linked to which party is making it an issue.  These results are consistent with research showing that Americans’ issue positions are often consequences rather than causes of their vote choices and help explain why increases in the federal budget deficit do not significantly predict vote tallies in national elections.

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Virtual Brownbag on GOTV and Minorities

Jessica Feezell sends the following announcement:

On Tuesday, March 5th at 1:00 PST, the Western Political Science Association will launch their new bi-monthly “Virtual Brown Bag” series where we will discuss a new book written by authors affiliated with the WPSA. This Virtual Brown Bag will be hosted on a social video platform, Spreecast, where you can submit questions to the authors, “chat” with others in the audience, go on camera to engage “face to face” in the discussion, or simply sit back and watch.

The first Virtual Brown Bag discussion will feature Dr. Lisa Garcia Bedolla & Dr. Melissa R. Michelson, authors of Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-Out-The-Vote Campaigns. You can find out more about their new book here.

On March 5th, please join us! Better yet, if you are one of the first 10 people to RSVP to the Virtual Brown Bag and “follow” the WPSA on Spreecast, the WPSA Social Media Task Force will send you a free copy of their new book compliments of the publisher. To RSVP, simply go to the event page, establish a free account and click “RSVP.”

I think there should need to be more of these kinds of events.  No need to be limited to face-to-face interaction at the occasional academic conference.

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Forecasting Panel on October 16

On TUESDAY, October 16, from 9:00 to 10:30 am, several political scientists will be presenting some forecasts of the presidential election.  The event will be held at the National Press Club in the First Amendment Lounge.  The address is 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC.  Here’s some more information.  You can sign up for the event and/or to receive the articles describing these forecasts.

[NOTE: Post originally said Wednesday.  Apologies.]

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Monkey Cage APSA “Reception” with Sasha Issenberg, Ezra Klein, and Nate Silver

The Restaurant Ste. Marie’s Champagne Tower

For the second year, The Monkey Cage will be hosting a shindig at the American Political Science Association conference in New Orleans.   It’s scheduled for around 9:30 pm on the Friday, August 31. We’ll be congregating at the bar of the Restaurant Ste. Marie, which is but a short walk from the conference hotels.  Also in attendance will be Sasha Issenberg of Slate, Ezra Klein of Wonkblog, and Nate Silver of 538.  The three of them will be at the conference as well.

If precedent holds, we’ll be there until late, working on that tower of champagne, so please come on by.

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Vote for My SXSW Panel

I am part of a proposed panel for the 2013 South by Southwest entitled “How Partisan Media Contributes to Healthy Politics.”  Here’s the description:

The rise of new media, from Facebook and Twitter to The Huffington Post and The Daily Caller, has allowed consumers of news to ignore anything that challenges their prior beliefs. Purveyors of news and information now wear their political stripes openly. Conventional wisdom assumes that this increased partisanship, in both media and politics, is an unmitigated ill. But is partisanship really so bad? Research in psychology and political science suggests that this tug-of-war between opposing sides could be beneficial in some ways. When ideas are challenged – who better to question your position than your partisan opponent? – better ones emerge. And while technology has enabled the rise of divisive media and the formation of closed thought bubbles, it could be harnessed to facilitate greater deliberation. This panel, featuring a political scientist and two journalists with extensive experience covering politics, will discuss the ways partisan media can contribute to healthy politics.

I certainly don’t believe that partisan media are always good for politics, but I think it would be interesting to explore the upsides of partisanship—a concept that is too often maligned.  The panel, organized by Alexander Hudson and Nick Naroditski of Partisans, also include Christina Bellantoni of the PBS NewsHour and James Kirchick, formerly of The New Republic and now a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In order for the panel to be accepted, it needs your vote.  You can do so here.  It is also helpful if you leave a comment saying why you think this panel would be teh awesome.  SXSW does require you to register with a name and email address, but it’s pretty painless.

Thanks, and please vote!

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Upcoming Roundtable on Mann and Ornstein’s It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

Monkey Cage readers in the Washington DC area may be interested in this event, presented by the National Capital Area Political Science Association:

National Capital Area Political Science Association
Roundtable on It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism 
by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Wednesday, June 6
3:30 to 5:00 p.m. (with reception to follow)

University of California Washington Center 1st Floor Auditorium
1608 Rhode Island Avenue NW

Thomas E. Mann, Brookings Institution
David Karol, University of Maryland
Matt Green, Catholic University

Of course, the book needs no introduction (see here or here).  I am sure it will be a stimulating discussion. And, need I add, “reception to follow” means free food.

If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to

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Learning from history: What 1989 in Europe can (and cannot) say about 2011 in the Middle East: Roundtable in DC on Friday

Scholars of Postcommunist Europe are meeting this week in Washington DC for the 43rd annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES, formerly the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies), and several of them will take part in a Friday afternoon roundtable that will look at current changes in the Middle Eastern through the lens of the political change that began in Europe in the late 1980’s and continued with another set of major upheavals in the early 2000’s.  I will be participating in the roundtable along with Valerie Bunce of Cornell University, Sharon Wolchik of George Washington University, Graeme Robertson of the University of North Carolina, and Kevin Deegan-Krause of Wayne State University.  We hope to have a wide-ranging discussion that covers many points including:

  • What Actually Happened?
    How are the particular events of 2012 similar to or different from what happened in postcommunist Europe?  Why does democratization seem to come in waves (and how do these differ from one another)?  What is the role of international actors and the military?  Does social media represent a genuinely new factor?

  • How Should We Think About It?
    What names and concepts do we use describe what actually happened in 2011 in the Middle East, especially as compared to what we call the events of in postcommunist Europe in 1989 (revolutions and “refolutions”) and again in the early 2000s (“colored revolutions”)? Which of the analytical tools used to understand postcommunist Europe was most helpful in understanding the Middle East in 2011? Which didn’t work at all?  How do observations by scholars of postcommunism different from those of scholars who focus on the Middle Eastern region, and what does each group of scholars need to learn from the other?

  • What Next?
    What does experience of postcommunist democratic transitions tell us about the most likely possibilities for the future of the region?  Does our scholarship yield any practical (and non-trivial) advice for actors in the region or for policymakers in the US and Europe?

The roundtable will take place on Friday, November 18 at 4pm in the Calvert Room of the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington DC.  We managed to convince the organizers of the conference to open the session to the public free of charge, and we welcome participation.  For more information, please contact Kevin Deegan-Krause at kdk[at]wayne{dot}edu. For those who cannot attend, we will have a number of participants who will take notes and blog on the discussion.

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