Lots of right-leaning commentary on democracy recently has advocated for restricting the franchise to people who are “better” at making decisions, with very little — if any — attention paid to the vast social science literature on this topic. Some things worth thinking about:
Obviously, these arguments are situated in a context of historical racism — whites used the exact same justification to disenfranchise black voters throughout the Jim Crow south. Oh, if they can’t pass literacy tests, why should they get to vote? *wink*
In addition to that, tho:
The fundamental problem with this is that, in a democracy, “majority rules” really is the only legitimate decision rule for government action. You can talk about the dangers of crowds, etc, but those fears are relatively unfounded in representative govs. gelliottmorris.substack.com/p/democracy-is…
Individuals can make idiosyncratic “errors” in their attitudes, but this ignore that aggregate decisions are usually good! The public led the way to expanding rights for black Americans in the 1960s, favored same-sex marriage long before it was federally legal, &c.
On average, the public has decided in the “right” direction (press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book…). One could also argue that historical “wrongs” in opinion, such as slavery, would have appeared much less desirable if the electorate included every citizen, not just white property-owning men.
There is even some pretty cool research that shows having a group of “uneducated” or “uninformed” ppl within the electorate helps aggregate opinion align w/ the majority, as deliberation counters the influence of a loud but small minority (such as NRO). science.sciencemag.org/content/334/60…
There is a lot more to say here, but I’ll end on this for now: America’s institutions cumulatively have a historically large bias toward Republicans today. Polling to the majority is one of the only ways to represent it in government. I’d be skeptical of people who oppose that.
One question for the anti-democracy folks ' at @NRO: how do you propose filtering out the “bad” voters from the “good?” Perhaps the answer will reveal a lot about the weakness of the argument.

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More from @gelliottmorris

8 Apr
Pew is having a great, transparent discussion about partisan bias in polling across their recent reports. Here are two new ones you should read:

1) pewresearch.org/methods/2021/0…

2) pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021…
One thing to note, across Pew’s postmortems and others’, is that the “solution” to 2016/2020 seems to be an increased reliance on weighting, more investment in sophisticated sampling techniques, or both — neither of which are readily available to firms without a ton of resources.
High-quality public opinion research is still possible, both online and off, but this means that we should expect more variance in good polls and more bias in bad polls. Not a great situation to be in, and the bandaids being proposed don’t really fix the underlying issues.
Read 5 tweets
7 Apr
It will be impossible to enact federal laws/rules preventing state election subversion — or at least substantially lowering the risk of it from the current (relatively) high level — so long as Republicans are driving partisan radicalization against democracy and free outcomes.
I view the point from @Nate_Cohn and others that Dems have missed the mark on HR1 bc of an overestimation of harms to turnout as a valid , tho maybe a bit beside the point that the gov cannot pass reasonable remedies so long as (a) our institutions are biased toward a party...
...that (b) views their opponent’s victories as illegitimate regardless of the conditions of their victory. HR1 probably won’t save democracy, but the solution is probably not attainable right now anyway. It is better to go ahead and reduce harms to voters in light of that.
Read 5 tweets
6 Apr
Job approval of Obama, Biden and Trump among whites, from our The Economist/YouGov polling archive
Senior support for Biden is 👀👀
Gen x too!
Read 4 tweets
6 Apr
I do think there's a lot more uncertainty here than people think
For starters, +4 on the generic ballot is probably around where Democrats need to be to keep the House. For another thing, we don't really know how passing a bunch of laws with 70% support and saving the country from the pandemic is going to go politically (but it probably helps)
Biden's approval rating is not where it would normally need to be for Dems to hold the House -- but those past rules probably don't fit right now, given polarization. you can probably pack a similar punch with a lower number these days v in 1950
Read 5 tweets
3 Apr
A blog post: Poli sci only offers limited evidence to forecast the impacts of new voting laws in places like GA & TX.

Regardless of those effects, the fabricated motivation and clear intent to bias outcomes toward the GOP is a necessary part of the story. gelliottmorris.substack.com/p/electoral-ma…
This is my preferred take on voting laws.

Any attempts to restrict the franchise are normatively bad, regardless of their effects. Coverage should reflect that.
To be clear, I think Nate is right on the poli sci evidence he discusses, but other work (cc @hill_charlotte) shows bigger fx and I'm wary of (a) applying it to GA & other states, and (b) conditioning on the worst parts of the law to focus on the numbers.
Read 13 tweets
1 Apr
More examples of public opinion polls helping the people get what they want out of government, this time from Psaki. In comparison to past administrations, the Biden White House seems particularly keen on giving the impression they’re responsive to the attitudes of the people.
George Bush’s anti-poll campaign was transparently bogus, given [checks notes] everything about Karl Rove’s political operation. If a politician isn’t looking at polls, they’re listening to people who are.
The criticism of Bill Clinton and Greenberg (his pollster) was also always pretty rich, considering Gingrich and the GOP were pursuing their own ideological goals (impeachment) in face of obvious public backlash. One option is clearly better than the other!
Read 5 tweets

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