Which States Have the Worst Congressional Gerrymandering in the Country?

This post, inspired in part by a 2014 Washington Post piece by Christopher Ingraham, is my first in a series dedicated to gerrymandering.

With the 2020 Census right around the corner, there’s bound to be a lot of talk in the news over the coming months about redistricting. That’s the process, carried out every 10 years upon completion of the U.S. Census, by which states redraw the boundaries for their voting districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and for state legislatures.

This is notable, in part, because if there’s going to be talk of redistricting, that means there’s inevitably also going to be talk of political gerrymandering, the practice of intentionally manipulating district boundaries to give one party an advantage over the other during upcoming elections. Read more “Which States Have the Worst Congressional Gerrymandering in the Country?”

What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?

As a psychologist scientist, data enthusiast, and novice programmer, one of the things I’ve been really interested in lately is applying text-mining tools to social media to learn more about public opinion on important news stories and current events.

I know it’s cliche to say it, but social media is an incredibly powerful tool. Not only does it obviously allow friends, family, and colleagues to easily communicate and share information with one another in near real-time, but it also provides a rich storehouse of communications for researchers and data geeks, such as myself, to comb thorough and mine for interesting patterns in human behavior and human thought.

For instance, I’ve previously written about research demonstrating how Twitter can be used to predict the risk of dying from a heart attack in particular regions of the country. And more recently, I’ve done a bit of text-mining in Twitter to try to learn more about our President’s tweeting habit, such as the time of day he generally prefers to tweet (usually around 8:00 am EST), the most frequent words he uses when he tweets (“thank,” “great,” and “Hillary”),* and whether his tweets include mostly positive or mostly negative words (on average it’s split pretty evenly, actually).

So, with my political and scientific interests being what they are, I figured I would turn to Twitter to try to learn a little more about how people have perceived and reacted to the continuous flood of news stories that has been coming out of North Carolina recently. Read more “What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?”

Political News Analysis: A New Project Exploring the Sentiment Behind Mainstream Media News Coverage

Two weeks ago, I started a new project intended to estimate how negative – or positive – political news reporting is from major media outlets. To accomplish this, I’m performing a daily sentiment analysis on news articles scraped from, at the moment, two sources: CNN’s politics RSS feed and Fox News’ politics RSS feed.

You can check out the results as the come in each day by clicking on the “Political News Analysis” tab at the top of the blog or by clicking on the link in the sidebar.

So far, as of March 19, 2017, my analysis suggests that both CNN and Fox News generally use more negative words than positive words in their political news coverage. Positive words include, for example, terms like “support,” “good,” and “well,” and negative words include, for example, terms like “allegations,” “concerns,” and “fears.” Read more “Political News Analysis: A New Project Exploring the Sentiment Behind Mainstream Media News Coverage”

More Americans Are Worrying Daily Under President Trump

Source: “Daily Worry Up Sharply Since US Presidential Election.” Gallup

Have you found yourself worrying a lot more about the state of the world and the future of our country since Donald Trump was elected 45th President of the United States? If so, you’re not alone.

According to a new report from Gallup, there’s been a sharp increase since November in the percentage of Americans who say they experience a lot of worry during any given day. Read more “More Americans Are Worrying Daily Under President Trump”

When Polls Collide: A Deep Dive into Trump’s Favorability Ratings

If you’re like me and you regularly – and, okay, maybe a little obsessively – seek out public opinion polls for insight into what Americans think about the current political climate, then you might find yourself wondering from time to time why polls sometimes disagree with one another.

For instance, how many Americans so far approve of the job Donald Trump is doing in the White House? According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on January 25, 2017, Trump’s approval rating stands at a mere 36 percent. However, according to a poll from Rasmussen, which was released a mere four days later on January 29, the percentage of Americans who approve of Trump’s job performance is considerably higher at 53 percent. What gives? Read more “When Polls Collide: A Deep Dive into Trump’s Favorability Ratings”

The Art of Political Persuasion, According to Psychological Science

If you’re among the millions of Americans who have vowed to be more politically active and engaged since the 2016 presidential election, then you might be wondering how best to carry on a conversation with friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues on the other side of the political aisle.

Perhaps you’ve even wondered how – given the hyper-polarized state of American politics today – you might be able to persuade those at the other end of the political spectrum to come around to your point of view, particularly on hot-button political issues, such as President Trump’s recent crackdown on immigration, the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, LGBT rights, and climate change to name just a few. Read more “The Art of Political Persuasion, According to Psychological Science”

Trump’s Crackdown on Immigration Probably Won’t Make America Safer

According to a new poll released earlier this week by the Pew Research Center, roughly three-quarters of Americans (76%) think defending the country against terrorism should be Donald Trump’s top priority as President.

Of course, Trump made terrorism a central issue in his campaign, and this may well be part of the reason he was elected in November. During the campaign, Trump talked tough about immigration and famously called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

And now that he’s taken office, Trump has quickly moved forward with his plan to try to prevent terrorists from entering the country by drastically cracking down on immigration – both legal and otherwise. Read more “Trump’s Crackdown on Immigration Probably Won’t Make America Safer”

Scientists are Organizing to March in Washington

Scientists at the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York. Credit: Joe Brusky/flickr

Following the success of the Women’s March on DC and the Trump administration’s recent move to censor scientists at various federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of researchers and science advocates have begun organizing their own political rally. Read more “Scientists are Organizing to March in Washington”

Actually, Mr. Trump, Most Members of the Public Do Care About Your Taxes

During the campaign last year, Donald Trump stated he would release his personal tax returns as soon as the IRS was finished conducting their “routine audit.”

He went on Fox News and said so as recently as this past September, as noted by CNN:

“Just so you understand I’m under audit. A routine audit. And when the audits complete I’ll release my return,” Trump reiterated Tuesday on Fox News.

But now, President-elect Trump seems to be signaling that he intends to back out of this promise. During this past Wednesday’s press conference, Trump stated he now has no intention of releasing his tax returns because, as he sees it, the only ones who care about his taxes are reporters and members of the (presumably, in his eyes, crooked and dishonest) media.

Read more “Actually, Mr. Trump, Most Members of the Public Do Care About Your Taxes”