Monday, March 29, 2010

Research Alert: 2008 Election

Just a quick item to alert everyone who doesn't regularly read the Monkey Cage (and shame on you!) that John Sides is running a series of items this week highlighting new research on the 2008 election.  First one here: Arthur Lupia throws a little cold water on the idea that new voters decided the election, finding that Bush -> Obama switchers were sufficient to give Obama the presidency.  Original article here (pdf).

One of the things about political science research is that it tends to run on its own timetable, which may or may not be convenient for, well, anyone else.  Not because political scientists lack interest in the real world of contemporary politics, but just because when you are doing research it tends to follow its own logic (not to mention the schedules of the academic year and academic journals).  For example, the thing that I'm working on right now uses data from the Eisenhower to Obama administrations, but what looks as if it's going to be really interesting out of it is about party changes, and their effects on the presidency, in the 1970s and early 1980s.  You may ask: why didn't someone do that study then, when it was happening?  But not only were the data not yet available (one couldn't have known in 1981 if some things were flukes or trends), but my research was inspired by other research that wasn't published in fact, there are a couple lines of research that my little piece depends on, and no one could possibly have figured out the piece that I'm working on without the major contributions that preceded me. 

This can be frustrating!  I'm sure people were way more interested in questions about the 2008 election on election night, 2008, when CNN was taking apart the exit polls, at least when it wasn't using that much-missed hologram technology.  Alas, it takes time to get things right.  So if you want to know what really happened in 2008, or at least the latest evidence, go over to the Monkey Cage and hang out with John Sides. Anyway, I'm glad someone has time on his hands today.

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