Trump's Surge over the Blue Wall

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Friday, October 30th, 2020

Friday, October 30, 20202:00PM - 3:00PMOnline Event, Online
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Agenda 2020: Making Sense of the American Election


How did Donald Trump win the 2016 “Blue Wall” states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—that made him president? Was it former Obama voters switching to the Republicans? Or a surge of people who didn’t vote in 2012? Or abstentions by usual Democratic voters? The calculation is not easy, primarily because surveys are seriously misleading about turnout while voter files provide no information about the voters’ choice of candidate. We show how to use those two data sources, along with actual vote returns, to resolve ongoing debates about how Trump won. Then we discuss the implications for the 2020 presidential election.

Bio: Chris Achen is the Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus at Princeton University. His primary research interests are public opinion, elections, and the realities of democratic politics, along with the statistical challenges that arise from those fields. He is the author or co-author of six books, including Democracy for Realists (with Larry Bartels) in 2016. He has also published many articles. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and Princeton’s Center for the Study of Democratic Politics. He was the founding president of the Political Methodology Society, and he received the first career achievement award from The Political Methodology Section of The American Political Science Association in 2007. He has served on the top social science board at the National Science Foundation, and he was the chair of the national Council for the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) from 2013-2015. He is also the recipient of an award from the University of Michigan for lifetime achievement in training graduate students and a student-initiated award from Princeton University for graduate student mentoring.


Chris Achen
Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus at Princeton University

Peter Loewen
Director of PEARL, Professor in the Department of Political Science & Munk School

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