Sunday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kathy says:

    I can’t help but think the execrable Dobbs decision answers the question: what happens when the dog catches the car?

  2. al ameda says:


    I can’t help but think the execrable Dobbs decision answers the question: what happens when the dog catches the car?

    I truly believe that the Dobbs decision, by this newly constituted theocratic Christian Catholic Supreme Court super majority, is the primary reason why Democrats survived this midterm election.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    MSNBC now projects a 219 to 216 House. Two vote margin. With the ‘Freedom Caucus.’

    Fox turns on Trump. Trump attacks DeSantis.

    I know the important thing was holding the Senate, but the entertainment ahead is going to be, if less important, even more fun.

    A small side note to greater things, both Michigan Houses flipped, helped by a below-the-radar group of kidlit authors Katherine and I help to fund, who raise money for state leg races. The state legislatures are going to be very important given Dobbs and given attacks on trans kids and their parents. Don’t ignore those races on election days.

  4. CSK says:

    Headline over at



  5. Tony W says:

    With the Senate in D control for 2023-4, it seems we have a ~2-month window now to pass all manner of beneficial legislation in the House, and then hold it in the Senate until we have a better situation there.

    This may well be our window to codify many of the reforms that the Jan 6th committee reports out, as well as things like voting rights, perhaps some rules around gerrymandering House districts – it’s time to get creative.

  6. wr says:

    Now that the election is over and it looks like we’re not heading (immediately) towards a fascist takeover, I find my brain now feels free to wander to other topics. And since we had such a (to me) fascinating discussion of the way parentheses affect grammar, I’ve got another parenthetical question to ponder. To wit:

    You don’t see it as much these days, but in the past there were a number of songs that started with a parenthetical clause: (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

    So my question is, when these songs appear in an alphabetical list, what do we use as their first word? Is it the one in parentheses, or the first (non-article) word after?

  7. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’m not sure what the grammatical rule is, but from a practical POV, the ordering will be done by the instructions in the database/spread sheet ap that is ordering the songs. For instance, I have a music file server and that sorts the songs with symbols, parenthesis, quotation marks etc, first and then looking at the second character, then third character, to order the songs. It then sorts songs beginning with numerals and lastly sorts alphabetically.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I took a look at the article it links to (by Wayne Allyn Root). The opening is such a perfect encapsulation of right-wing-brain:

    When something is so obvious, if the outcome makes no sense, if the outcome is literally impossible, then it is what it is. Forget “proof.” You know it. You saw it. You felt it. You experienced it. It happened. It’s real.

    In the entire piece he offers two lines of evidence to support what he claims needs no proof: (1) “Historically, every president in history facing his first midterm experiences a tough day with automatically 20 to 30 House seats lost…and 4 or more Senate seats lost…” (Has he forgotten Dubya?) (2) The polls pointed to a red wave. (It’s fascinating to me that the right suddenly thinks polls are predictive, and that when they aren’t it’s proof of election-rigging.)

    What the article never does is offer any actual evidence of fraud.

  9. CSK says:


    I think you can reduce it down to: “If Republican (more accurately MAGA) candidates lose, it’s only because of fraud.”

    One of the comments beneath the article was: “Welcome to the end of our country. Satan is in charge.”

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:
  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: If they ever required evidence for their assertions, the entire conservative project would collapse under it’s own dead weight.

  12. CSK says:


    According to the MLA, you use the first non-article word regardless of whether it’s in parentheses.

  13. Kylopod says:

    How did we get to the weird, awkward phrase “red wave”? The phrase was basically nowhere in sight during 2010 or 2014, both very strong Republican cycles.

    Well, start with the whole red/blue business in the first place. As I understand it, in the decades following the rise of color TV in the late 1960s, networks experimented with various color schemes to represent which states were won by which parties on Election Night. In 1980, David Brinkley said the electoral map looked like a “suburban swimming pool.” The context of that remark is that NBC colored the states won by Reagan in blue, and by Carter in red. Since Reagan won 44 states that year, the map looked overwhelmingly blue.

    It wasn’t until 2000 that all the networks settled on the current scheme where red = Republican and blue = Democrat. And that’s when the terms “red state” and “blue state” started to become popular.

    In 2006 and 2008, the phrase “blue wave” appeared in the press a couple of times, but I don’t think it was in any way widely used. So naturally you didn’t hear much talk about a “red wave” in the two Obama midterms, even though those are in fact the most recent cycles where the term would legitimately have applied.

    It was 2018 when both terms rose to the fore. First, there was the anticipated “blue wave” that was talked about all year. Then, with his 5-year-old brain, Trump began screaming on Twitter, “RED WAVE!!!!”

    It’s an awkward metaphor that doesn’t sound quite right, but I think the GOP grabbed onto it because they like the martial associations.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I love the delusion in this:

    Kevin Roberts@KevinRobertsTX
    This failure must spark serious changes in Republican leadership—and their DC-centric, consultant-driven non-strategy. Having spent the last few days with everyday conservatives at @Heritage’s annual mtg the base is on the brink of walking away forever.

    Yes, because “everyday conservatives” are the people who show up at the Heritage Foundation’s annual masturbatory confab.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: You are asking a vital question (of course). And although I have no answer, I have another question: WHY did these songs start out with a parenthetical? It always seemed very odd to me.

  16. charon says:


    I like when Republicans talk about “riding the red wave” – words that were earlier used to describe getting a visit from Aunt Flo.

  17. MarkedMan says:


    According to the MLA

    Master List Association? Please, please I want this to be a thing. Imagine their meetings!

  18. CSK says:


    MLA is the Modern Language Association. So sorry.

  19. Kylopod says:


    WHY did these songs start out with a parenthetical? It always seemed very odd to me.

    Parentheticals in song titles are a way of suggesting they’re not part of the real title, but represent the full lyric surrounding the title. The Otis Redding song is really called “The Dock of the Bay,” which has more of a title-like formality than “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”

    You see this also in songs where there’s a lyric people most associate with the song, but which isn’t the actual title.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:
  21. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “I have another question: WHY did these songs start out with a parenthetical? ”

    Yeah, I’ve always wondered about that, too. It’s not like the Redding song is all about that dock on that bay, and the singer sitting on it is only incidental. It’s all about him, why he’s sitting there, what he’s doing when he’s sitting there…

  22. Kathy says:


    Well, if something happens and you see it happening, then it’s real. But that doesn’t mean either that 1) the cause is apparent, or 2) you know what the cause is.

    Say a building that has been standing there for decades suddenly collapses. There was no warning, no prior partial collapse, no known cracks anywhere. It just fell in on itself one day.

    In that case one can say the building collapsed from having it seen collapse. One cannot say why it collapsed without further investigation.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rose Sinister

    Hey. Before Twitter goes away, maybe help me find my hero?

    On Dec. 27th, 2020, my husband passed out while driving, and our car crashed at 70mph on I-10 near Jacksonville, FL. A driver headed the opposite direction saw the crash, exited the interstate, and got back on- 1/6

    -the road, looking for us. He found me wandering along the shoulder a few minutes after I escaped the crash site and climbed up the embankment, trying to find help. He was that help. The only driver who stopped that night. He’d already called 911. He saved our lives. 2/6

    I remember almost nothing about him. He was driving a bigger SUV. Maybe it was brown, or blue? There was a child’s artwork on the floorboard of the passenger seat. He was kind. He kept me calm. He stayed til help arrived. I think he had black hair. 3/6

    If there’s any way to find him before this site goes dark, I’d like to do so. I would like to be able to thank him for stopping. I’d like to be able to tell him that we lived. My husband and I both broke our backs, and my husband ended up needing a pacemaker- 4/6

    But we lived, in part, thanks to the willingness of a wonderful human being who chose to turn around on a dark winter night after witnessing the worst 30 seconds of a stranger’s life. Someone out there knows who that man is. Maybe he’ll see this. Maybe you know him. 5/6

    I want him to know that not a day goes by that I don’t think of his kindness. As we approach the 2-year anniversary of the accident, I’d like, very much, to be able to thank him in person, or over the phone. Help me with this long shot? 6/6
    So, maybe that will lead to something. There’s also a real chance my hero doesn’t want to be found. If that’s the case, I’ll respect that. But it’s the holidays, and I don’t know about you, but I could use some good cheer. I hope this has a happy ending.

    I can’t imagine seeing an accident and not stopping.

  24. CSK says:


    The thing is, the guy who stopped and helped probably didn’t think he was doing anything out of the ordinary.

  25. CSK says:

    Despite being begged not to do so, Trump is going to make his announcement this coming Tuesday.

    Jason Miller promises that Trump will be “very professional” and “very buttoned-up.”


  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: “… Satan is in charge.”

    Well yes, but only because of God’s Will. Maybe they’re being punished for something. [eyeroll]

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Hmmm… I’ve always (heh) associated the wave metaphor with surfing. Something I read once in the news associated it with earthquakes–as in tsunami. Martial comes way late for me.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yep. If it were me I would probably call her to say I’m glad they were doing well and leave it at that.

    After the Cliff Cave rescue in ’93 I went to the wakes for the 2 adult counselors and the memorial for the dead kids, but when the Post Dispatch called to do a story about cavers, I opted out. “No thanx.”

  29. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Hmmm… I’ve always (heh) associated the wave metaphor with surfing. Something I read once in the news associated it with earthquakes–as in tsunami. Martial comes way late for me.

    That’s why I said it was an awkward metaphor that doesn’t quite work. “Blue wave” is clearly a reference to an ocean. “Red wave” isn’t a reference to anything in particular, it just replaces blue with red because that happens to be the color of the other party. But red, as a color, does conjure up images of blood and war, and I think that’s what Republicans are going for when they use that phrase. I’m not sure it’s what Trump himself had in mind when he coined the phrase–I don’t think he’s that sophisticated, I think it was just his version of “I know you are but what am I?”–but I definitely have the sense it’s part of what appealed to other Republicans when the phrase started to catch on.

  30. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    What’s interesting to me is that the MAGAS don’t seem to object to actual Democratic policies*, or at least they don’t mention them much. What they do object to is being governed by what they deem a pack of pedophiles, devil worshippers, drag queens, trans people, and gays.

    *They don’t want the U.S. to give Ukraine money, but I think that feeling is more in support of Donald Trump than it is about spending.

  31. CSK says:

    Trump’s apparently back on TruthSocial after taking a one-day hiatus for Tiffany’s wedding: His latest, on Mitch McConnell:

    “Everyone despises him and his otherwise lovely wife, Coco Chow!”

    He seems to like the sobriquet “Coco Chow.”

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I think the only reason they don’t want the U.S. to give Ukraine money, is because DEMs think we should.

  33. Kylopod says:


    They don’t want the U.S. to give Ukraine money, but I think that feeling is more in support of Donald Trump than it is about spending.

    Possibly when it comes to the hardcore MAGA cult where there’s virtually no content to their beliefs other than following their messiah…. However, for many on the right, Putin has long been a source of admiration; in some ways he’s the international Trump. He’s the most prominent strongman in the world today, he very clearly stands for Christian nationalism and persecution of LGBT, and I think there’s also some degree of anti-Semitism in support for the invasion of a country led by a Jew.

  34. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Kylopod:

    I don’t disagree with either of you. Ozark, you make a good point about Dems and wanting to thwart whatever they propose.

    Kylopod, you’re right about Putin being a Christian anti-gay strongman. (I’ve often said so myself.) I don’t know, however, now many MAGAs are aware Zelenskyy is a Jew.

  35. Monala says:

    @al ameda: a Balloon Juice commenter articulated well something I’ve been trying to say:

    It’s astounding to me that elite media don’t think women consider unwanted pregnancy and unplanned parenthood to be economic issues. Raising a child from 0-18 will be the most expensive thing most people ever do, and it will weigh into every other economic decision you make.

  36. al Ameda says:


    Trump’s apparently back on TruthSocial after taking a one-day hiatus for Tiffany’s wedding: His latest, on Mitch McConnell:
    “Everyone despises him and his otherwise lovely wife, Coco Chow!”
    He seems to like the sobriquet “Coco Chow.”

    Trump is always really proud of his lame middle school level insults. He’ll smile at his adoring mob, with a ‘am I the best or what’ sh*t-eating grin, and they eat that sh*t up.

  37. Monala says:

    Revisiting the discussion about Florida and climate change: I’ve been listening to “The Big Burn” podcast from LAist Studios, about the wildfire challenge in California, and how climate change is worsening it. In one episode, the host identifies successful strategies that have worked in other places.

    One place he identifies is Florida, which has invested heavily in wildfire management since the 1990s, especially through its Prescribed Fire training center in Tallahassee, as well as a state liability insurance fund. These factors have resulted in a greater per capita fire management workforce than California, and the protection those workers need.

    The irony is, during the podcast there was an ad for a different podcast about the flooding issues in Florida, and how climate change is worsening it. It made me wonder why Florida has been successfully tackling an issue that’s not its biggest problem, and why California isn’t.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    I have found two items, one about Michigan State the other covering University of Michigan. I’m sure that there are other stories about the youth turnout in this election and how it boosted the Blue vote. (I don’t claim this post to be a scientific survey just an anecdote and I am the first to say that anecdotes are not evidence. Maybe all the citizens in the photos in these items voted Republican for all I know.)
    In the past I have read comments in these threads that College Students should vote in their home jurisdictions where their parents live since they are just transients in Campustown.
    To register and vote in Jackson County, Illinois where I live a prospective voter must:

    -be a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States
    -be 18 years of age at the time of the next General Election
    -have lived at the address where you register for at least 30 days prior to the next election

    That’s all good enough for me. Upon noting the low turnout for local contests here in the City of Carbondale and Jackson County just 5 days ago I have no problem with any or all of the thousands of eligible Southern Illinois University students casting ballots here.
    Personally I think that it is foolish to discourage them.

  39. DK says:

    @Monala: Because the so-called elite media’s pundit class — and their intellectually lazy herd mentality fake narratives — are woefully out-of-touch with reality and the American people. See the four weeks leading up to the Red Herring, and their insults of those who warned them they were wrong (you Democrats are “in denial” and drinking hopium, etc etc).

    Family planning and abortion are kitchen table issues. Whining about wokeness, trans athletes, drag queens, and LatinX language are not.

  40. dazedandconfused says:


    The idea is to quote the hook lyric, which everybody remembers.

  41. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:

    Has Trump forgotten that “Coco Chow” was his secretary of transportation for four years?

  42. CSK says:


    “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)”

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @dazedandconfused: Oh, I get that. I’m just wondering why that isn’t the title to begin with. Perhaps because the author titled it not realizing that no one would remember it by that title, and there is some legal/copyright reason that you can add a parenthetical after the fact but can’t otherwise change the name?

  44. gVOR08 says:

    Last week James had a post based on Ezra Klein’s interview of political scientists John Sides and Lynn Verveck on their new book, The Bitter End. The main takeaway is that our current politics are driven by “calcification” and “parity”. The sides are hardened and they are nearly equal. This produces the close results that lead to slow counts. And we have a weird situation in which major developments, Dobb’s, 1/6, inflation, etc. make very little difference in the vote, while small changes in the vote drive big changes in policy.

    Yesterday at NYT Klein revisited this himself, but added a third driver of our politics, “cultural backlash”. He cites political scientists Pippa Norris and Ron Inglehart. Klein says,

    If you were looking for a three-sentence summary of American politics in recent years, I think you could do worse than this: The parties are so different that even seismic events don’t change many Americans minds. The parties are so closely matched that even minuscule shifts in the electoral winds can blow the country onto a wildly different course. And even in a time of profound economic dislocation, American politics has become less about which party is good for your wallet and more about whether the cultural changes of the past 50 years delight or dismay you.

    Sides et al’s book on the 2016 election, Identity Crisis, hit on cultural backlash as a primary driver.

    Klein seems to see cultural backlash as a new thing, or newly important in U. S. politics. I see it as a constant in the background. A Babylonian village plowman probably resented those loose living, pointy headed, scribes, priests, and especially tax collectors in the city of Babylon. Parties can choose to exploit that resentment or run on something else. Conservatives, who have nothing else to offer, have often relied on cultural resentment.

    Also at NYT Jamelle Bouie had a column warning that the dam may break, that party parity is unusual historically and that some shock will push one party or the other to the top. He notes the continuity evidenced by this midterm, but also notes that through most of our history we’ve had a sun and moon system, a dominant party and an opposition party. In the last century Republicans were dominant until the Great Depression and Dems for decades after. (One of life’s ironies is that the 50s GOPs seem to want to return to were created by Dems.) Bouie sees today’s party parity as unstable, that some shock will tip the balance one way or the other. He thinks it will tip to the advantage of whichever party is better prepared for the shock. (Without knowing what the shock might be.)

    I don’t know who’s better prepared, but the GOP Party is under a lot of stress. It’s been a schizophrenic party for decades, a set of wealthy oligarchs and corporate shills manipulating a populist base that’s starting to complain they’re not getting anything out of the deal. I see rising anti-corporate talk. There’s a real inmates/asylum vibe. It’s felt for some time like something’s gonna blow, but what?

  45. dazedandconfused says:


    We almost never see it applied to songs that aren’t hits, and at release nobody knows what song is a hit…and for most artists 90% of their stuff isn’t. For instance., it’s a pretty safe bet that Shoop Shoop song CSK posted wouldn’t have had that name if the artist or producer had thought much of it at the time.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Has Trump forgotten that “Coco Chow” was his secretary of transportation for four years?

    3 3/4 years.

  47. Franklin says:

    @Michael Reynolds: From a resident of Michigan, thank you!

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Bouie sees today’s party parity as unstable, that some shock will tip the balance one way or the other. He thinks it will tip to the advantage of whichever party is better prepared for the shock. (Without knowing what the shock might be.)

    The shock is Dobbs.

    I don’t see the GOP recovering from making 50.5 % of the US population less than the other 49.5%. Not now, not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, not next decade…

    They done fcked up. I know my granddaughters won’t forgive them.

  49. Franklin says:

    @wr: I’ve been thinking a bit about this general idea in the context of non-alphanumeric characters, particularly when I search up songs. Stevie Wonder’s “I believe (when I fall in love it will be with you forever)” for example. Because I don’t want all the other I believe songs.

    Not sure what other unusual character combos have been used, but which part of Halsey’s song do people remember as the chorus? Let’s try both: “Finally // beautiful stranger” – hmm, double slashes like a C++ comment in lieu of parentheses …

  50. CSK says:


    Was Chao Trump’s longest-lasting cabinet member?

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I hope Dobbs is enough of a shock to upset partisan parity in Dem’s favor. I fear it’s another major development that will only cause a small change in voting. On the other hand, maybe election day’s Red Fizzle is the leading edge of a Blue Wave we’ll see in ’24.

  52. Kylopod says:


    The shock is Dobbs.

    If it is, I’m not seeing it so far. Bouie’s prime example of a political “shock” was the Great Depression, and it’s hard to grasp quite how big an impact that was, because it was unlike anything we see today: millions of voters basically shifted, practically overnight, to a different party. States that had been dominated by Republicans for decades suddenly started voting overwhelmingly Democrat. And we saw the opposite happen following the Civil Rights Act in the ’60s.

    This year’s election is nothing like those examples. If anything one of the central characteristics of this cycle has been the surprising lack of change. Most incumbents have been reelected; most states and districts have voted for the same party as before. It makes it seem like we’re more polarized than ever. The Dems have some advantages here–we’ve now had three straight cycles that have gone our way–but neither side is achieving anything close to landslide wins, we have to work our ass off each time just to stay above water, and we always seem to end up with very narrow, closely divided governments.

    Maybe it’s all a precursor to some bigger changes down the line, but certainly we haven’t reached that point yet.

  53. Gustopher says:


    Bouie sees today’s party parity as unstable, that some shock will tip the balance one way or the other. He thinks it will tip to the advantage of whichever party is better prepared for the shock. (Without knowing what the shock might be.)

    I think it’s just as likely that there will be no shock, and that Republicans will simply not be able to organize with the mainstream Republicans and the Q Caucus and no votes to spare.

    If there is no way for either chunk of the Republican Party to get to 218 votes, at some point the non-Q-believers are going to have to look for some more votes in the conservative Democrats to elect a House Majority Leader.

  54. Kathy says:

    I don’t expect it, but if the Democrats wind up retaining the House even by one vote, worldwide popcorn stocks may be depleted.

    On other things, I watched “Samaritan” yesterday on Amazon. The reviews I’d seen were pretty bad, and for once I wasn’t disappointed. Solid thumbs down. The pace is rather slow at first. Much of what happens one can see ten miles away, but it takes its sweet time getting here. The bad guy is both too powerful and too small time, and ignored too often. He’s also not scary at all.

    There’s a twist near the end I will readily admit I did not see coming. Looking back, it makes sense given the dialogue by various characters, but not entirely given their actions. I can’t say more without spoilers.

  55. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: I suspect that most voters pay about as much attention to Dem programs as they do to roller derby.

  56. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha:

    Except when the programs vanish or are gutted by repuglicans… then they blame the lazy demorats!

  57. charon says:

    This is interesting. You’ll notice only two age groups in the chart below where Dems turned out at a higher rate than GOPs in Colorado. 25 to 34 and 35 to 44. It’s almost as if something fired these voters up.×900

  58. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t think it works like that. I think the majority party caucuses and the majority winner is speaker

  59. Kathy says:

    The idea is floating around to build a second Antonov An-225 Mriya, as the only exemplar was destroyed early in the Ukraine war.

    There is much symbolism in operating the world’s largest aircraft, and it could do some jobs no other airplane could (a few which nothing else could). But it will come down to money, as these things usually do.

    There is no exact figure, but $500 million has been bandied about. That’s not an outrageous price for a one-of-a-kind airplane, but it’s not cheap either. Also, Ukraine will need a lot of money to rebuild Ukraine first. A lot more than $500 million (much, much more, unfortunately).

    So, I wouldn’t bet on it. The first one was a Soviet military project, intended to ferry the Buran shuttle, which flew only once to space.