Monday, October 17, 2016

Full Circle

It's weird and yet somehow comforting when your research area cycles back into the news. I've done work on people's trust in elections when they come out on the losing side. As William Riker wrote in 1983:
The dynamics of politics is in the hands of the losers. It is they who decide when and how and whether to fight on. Winners have won and do not immediately need to change things. But losers have nothing and gain nothing unless they continue to try to bring about new political situations.
But even more so, my interest has been on the surprised losers -- the folks who expected to win despite all polling evidence to the contrary. I published this study on it and here's a more digestible news story about the research. My point was simple, that losers matter, but surprised losers may matter even more in terms of negative feelings about government, democracy, and elections.

And then Donald Trump comes along and more or less makes my research area relevant again by challenging the fairness of the electoral process and predicting a "rigged" election.

Thanks, Donald. You da man.

I had another study submitted to a journal that compared 2004 and 2012 on this topic, as well as looked at data from 1952-2012, but that journal (I'm looking at you, JOBEM) didn't accept it. Boy, don't you feel dumb now, given what's happening today? You could have published research read by more then tens of people worldwide. Take a bow. I'll probably set that aside and use it later.

OK, academic bitterness aside, this race is cycling right into my research and, yes, I plan on analyzing the 2016 data on surprised losers and their attitudes about democracy and the election. This requires interviewing the same people before and after the election, asking them before who they expect to win, asking them after about their attitudes about democracy and the electoral process.

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