Wednesday’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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    question to the creatives here. There are multiple versions of La Femme Nikita. Each one more improbable than the one before, and IMO probably worse. And yet they keep sliding down the greased log flume… So why???? (LFN is just an example, pick a show that’s beaten to death in remake land)

    ETA it’s bad when I’m binge watching Captain Scarlet while reading Becky Chamber’s long way to a small angry planet at 2am PST.

  2. DK says:

    Trump Lost Vermont. Here’s Why That’s Bad News for Joe Biden

    – New York Times, probably.

  3. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Does Grump’s head spin around like in the exorcist when he actually realizes he’s lost at anything? And if so, can I watch it on PPV?

  4. DK says:

    Biden is outperforming Obama’s 2012 numbers. Here’s why he should drop out for the Imaginary Better Unknown Candidate.
    by Ezra Klein

  5. Kylopod says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Does Grump’s head spin around like in the exorcist when he actually realizes he’s lost at anything?

    Dude, even back at Iowa I’m convinced that one county that went to Haley keeps him up at night.

  6. Scott says:

    In the Texas Republican Civil War, it appears the bad guys mostly won:

    Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton declare victory in attack on House GOP defectors

    In a victory for Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, at least nine House Republicans appeared to have lost their primaries on Tuesday evening.

    Another eight members, at least, were also forced into runoffs this May 28 — including House Speaker Dade Phelan who was the No. 1 target of the far right.

    The two state leaders and other prominent Republicans, like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and former president Donald Trump, endorsed challengers in dozens of races citing the incumbents’ disloyalty to the party.

    The Tuesday night drubbing serves as a cautionary reminder that elected Republicans, regardless of their seniority and length of tenure, cross the party’s base at their peril. Challengers and their surrogates framed the Texas House as an institution that catered to liberals and thwarted the conservative priorities.

    In particular, Abbott vowed revenge on those House Republicans who helped kill his signature legislative priority to pass school vouchers and Paxton separately targeted Republicans who voted to impeach him last summer.

    Texans are going to get what they voted for. And they are going to get it good and hard.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    My bad. There was a particular thread I was half-following yesterday and before leaving work I caught up with it but noted that one of our screaming obsessives had started weighing in. Later in the evening I looked and noticed that the post count had jumped by about 30, and assumed it had devolved into an endless and fruitlesss back and forth with that poster and so didn’t bother to look. However, this morning when, forgetting that, I opened it up, it turns out it was an actual discussion.

  8. Michael J Reynolds says:

    Yes, why?

    On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded Israel and filmed itself committing scores of human-rights atrocities. Some of the footage was later captured by the Israeli military and screened to hundreds of journalists, including me. The “pure, predatory sadism,” as Atlantic writer Graeme Wood described it, is bottomless.

    Yet Hamas denies that its men sexually assaulted Israelis, calling the charges “lies and slanders against the Palestinians and their resistance.” And Hamas’s fellow travelers and useful idiots in the West, most of them self-described progressives, parrot that denialism in the face of powerful and deeply investigated evidence of widespread rapes, documented most recently in a United Nations report released on Monday.

    The interesting question is, why? Why the refusal to believe that Hamas, which butchered children in their beds, took elderly women as hostages and incinerated families in their homes, would be capable of that?

  9. Scott says:

    This is the kind of stupidity that drives our politics in a bad way:

    VA reverses plan to ban iconic WWII kiss photo from medical sites

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough is overruling plans to ban the famous Times Square kiss photo marking the end of World War II from all department health care facilities, a move criticized as political correctness run amok.

    The ban was announced internally at VA medical facilities late last month in a memo from RimaAnn Nelson, the Veterans Health Administration’s top operations official. Employees were instructed to “promptly” remove any depictions of the famous photo and replace it with imagery deemed more appropriate.

    “The photograph, which depicts a non-consensual act, is inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault,” the memo stated.

    “To foster a more trauma-informed environment that promotes the psychological safety of our employees and the veterans we serve, photographs depicting the ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ should be removed from all Veterans Health Administration facilities.”

    The idea that an public official could decide to spend 2 seconds on this tells me the position could be eliminated as not necessary to the functioning of the organization.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: A actual discussion on the internet??? Boy, has this place gone to the dogs.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Another couple of pieces of evidence in my “70+% of the voters know virtually nothing and trying to discern how they can vote for candidate X given what they have done/said is a complete waste of time”

    A New Republic poll found that significant majorities (roughly 70%) are unaware of most of the terrible things Trump has done and said.

    Another poll (sorry, can’t find it at the moment) had 50% of the respondents predicting that the Dems will nominate someone other than Biden.

    I would guess there are as many Americans up on the Premier League standings or the Formula 1 Series as people who know what is happening in politics (as demonstrated by, say, reading this blog and posting in the comments section). I guess the good side of that is that if you do get actively involved by campaigning, canvassing, etc, you can punch way above your weight.

  12. Kylopod says:


    Another poll (sorry, can’t find it at the moment) had 50% of the respondents predicting that the Dems will nominate someone other than Biden.

    Betting markets give about 25% chance that the winner of this year’s presidential election isn’t Trump, Biden, or Harris. 10% say it’ll be Michelle Obama.

    I presume the bettors know a bit more about politics than the average person, even if they often give the impression otherwise.

  13. charontwo says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    The BBC did a TV show called “Traffik” that I really liked a lot – 6 episodes, each 1 hour. Poppys grown in Afghanistan moved through Pakistan to Germany etc. Remade into a movie “Traffic” Michael Douglas/ Catherine Zeta-Jones significantly inferior and moved to Mexico/California. Three more remake movies, which got shittier and shittier, the last really terrible.

    My observation/opinion American remakes of European shows are typically downgrades.

  14. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: @MarkedMan: The polling is crap.

    The NYT Sienna poll that got major headlines last week:
    Landline and Cellphone respondents [No bias there /s]
    3% more men than women [ahistorical]
    4% more Rs than Ds [Really]
    12% less independents than typical. (Also its clear their sampled independents skewed R which is also ahistorical. Its typically a split or lean D.

    They don’t even try anymore to inform voters of where we are in time and space. NO POLLSTER WOULD BET A PAYCHECK THE ELECTORATE IN NOVEMBER WILL LOOK LIKE THE ABOVE. These are influence and shaping campaigns, which I believe, are designed to keep Ds and Lean Ds on pins and needles to go vote–

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I’m not sure what difference the respondent pool makes unless the polling agency doesn’t account for that. For example, if I know that the electorate will consist of 40% Martians and 60% Venusians, and I get responses from 1000 Martians but only 100 Venusians, it only increases my margin of error for the Venusian vote as compared to the Martian, but shouldn’t affect the top line poll result.

  16. Kathy says:


    1) Cornstarch is my go to thickener. I honestly can’t detect any influence on flavor (I can when using wheat flour).

    2) Maillard is hard to achieve in the ceramic coated multi pot. I did get it when using the cast iron* pot, but I really found no difference in the end product. Not after slow cooking for hours in broth.

    * IMO, cast iron cookware should be known as Maillard cookware. It’s hard not to brown meats in one.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I find that rice flour gives a little umami or nutty flavor as a thickener. I detect a definite intrusive taste or feel to cornstarch if I use too much of it.

  18. Kathy says:


    I used rice flour once when I ran out of cornstarch. I noticed no thickening.

    I rarely use more than a teaspoon, regardless of the size of the dish I’m cooking. Always dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water.

  19. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: Sure if your are only talking strickly 2 groups of people–not multiple subgroups within and across each feeder group with different preferences.

    Also, when you undersample the biggest wildcard group, Independents, by double digit percentages and the respondents skew in a manner not consistent with one actually happens–it should make you ask yourself–how valuable as an information tool is a poll with a high single or low double-digit margin of error in today’s environment?

  20. DK says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I dislike the tendency to unskew polls, but it’s true some of these polls have some strange crosstabs.

    For example, last week’s Morning Consult poll purporting to show Trump leading Biden in seven swing states. Its Nevada poll had Trump +6, despite Biden winning Nevada whites +7. Huh? How? Oh: it had Trump at +45 with Latino voters (and winning 30% of blacks).

    There’s no political environment good enough for Biden to win a swing state’s whites by seven points, then barely break 50% with blacks while losing Latinos 25% to Trump’s 70%. Biden lost Nevada whites by double-digits in 2020, still carried the state. Biden at 50% there with whites, or Trump at 70% with Latinos, would signal a landslide one way or the other.

    Maybe it’s all accurate and this year will see new, huge realignment — especially given the candidates’ unpopularity and respectively unique strengths and stretches. Or maybe Morning Consult should’ve reweighted or tossed these results, that set off another round of Democratic dooming.

    Some pollsters might still be struggling to adjust to the volatility of the Trump era electorate. He is underperforming his primary polling, some of which has been off 20-30+ points.

    National and general election surveys tend to be more consistent than single-state primary polls, but yes, internal numbers in some national polls look unusual.

  21. Jen says:

    10% say it’ll be Michelle Obama.

    This perennial wish really needs to go away. She has NEVER expressed a desire to run for office, and in fact is an intensely private person who is currently living her best life now that that part of their lives is over. I get the desire to push this thought, I really do. She’s fantastic.

    But it ain’t gonna happen, folks.

  22. DrDaveT says:


    My observation/opinion American remakes of European shows are typically downgrades.

    My first encounter with that phenomenon was when I went to see The Man with One Red Shoe, having previously seen (and loved) Le Grand Blond avec Une Chaussure Noire

  23. Kylopod says:


    I dislike the tendency to unskew polls

    Unskewing polls got a bad name from the 2012 guy. That doesn’t mean all criticisms of polls based on sampling are nothing but partisan wishful thinking. The 2012 guy had two basic criticisms: the samples had more Dems than Republicans, and the indies favored Romney. Both criticisms were fallacious, as Dems did in fact outnumber Republicans, and (contrary to a common folk belief) the candidate who wins the indie vote doesn’t always win the election. Romney and John Kerry both won the indie vote despite losing their elections.

    The 2012 guy got it wrong, but in the years since we’ve seen clear examples of polls failing, in both directions–Trump outperformed polls in 2016 and 2020, and Dems have more recently done so in the past few years (though personally I think that in all these cases, turnout models are a bigger culprit than sampling error).

  24. gVOR10 says:

    I still subscribe to NYT, as they are a good news source and sometimes very good, but so often they are FTFNYT. I’ve commented that it’s hard to understand why. Via Brad DeLong’s March 3 Substack, Tom Watson on his Substack, has as good a short explanation as I’ve seen.

    The New York Times Is Broken: ‘The hard truth, especially for New Yorkers who have read the paper for decades, is that it’s not cluelessness or simply bad journalism keeping from NYT from defending democracy. It’s business…. The liberal paper of record continues to stage a mass freak out event over Joe Biden’s age…. Never mind that Biden promised neither concentration camps nor the destruction of the western alliance, and appears both more fit and mentally sharp than the 78-year-old Mussolini wannabe. The Times is not interested. And here’s why, folks—here’s the hard truth, especially for New Yorkers who have read the paper for decades. It’s not cluelessness, some misguided “both sides” ethic, or simply bad journalism. No, to me it sadly comes down to the now undeniable conclusion that the Class A shareholders of stock in The New York Times Company want Trump to win. Probably, for the money. Occam’s Razor. And the newsroom got the memo…

    This seems more of a factor in our politics than anyone, especially FTFNYT, wants to admit. Sure Trump may end democracy, destroy our alliances, and gut the economy; but Joe Biden, 81, might raise my taxes and cut my oil and coal profits.

  25. Kylopod says:


    This perennial wish really needs to go away.

    Currently this rumor seems to be coming mostly from people who despise her. Steve Bannon and others on the far right have been floating the idea that the Dems plan to have Biden suddenly drop out shortly before the convention, and then the DNC will coronate Michelle. I haven’t heard any Dems promote this theory.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael J Reynolds: Hamas is a horrible organization run by horrible people, so of course what plainly happened, happened. And the people who think that Hamas is a heroic organization deserving of our support live in a fantasy world.

    Hamas also looks like it will pass on the cease fire, condemning thousands or tens of thousands more Gazans to death through starvation, disease or Israeli military offensive.

    There are no good guys in this multi-generation tragedy.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Huh. I’ve used rice flour for years. Just used it a couple of days ago to thicken a sauce for boneless porkchops. Maybe there are different types?

    Recipe: sous vide pork chops with a marinade of soy sauce, grated fresh ginger and minced garlic at 140F for 2-3 hours. Remove pork chops and grill for a few minutes each side. Meanwhile, saute a few mushrooms and scallions and, when ready, add marinade along with the juices from the chops and simmer on the stove, adding rice flour diluted with water until moderately thickened. Pour over the pork chops. I got raves from my wife.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR10: I think you are attibuting to malice what is better explained by clicks. NYT makes money on each click, people (Dem or Repub or Indep) are more likely to click on “Biden is so old!” stories. QED.

  29. Kathy says:


    It could be the amounts of flour and/or sauce. I used exactly one teaspoon of rice flour in 1/4 cup of water (I don’t recall whether it dissolved or not). I don’t recall how much sauce there was. I do recall it didn’t thicken, or not appreciably.

  30. Kathy says:


    Colbert had good advice for people who keep trying to change the candidates: stop writing political fan-fic.

  31. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: That’s just weird and depressing, because in that situation, it’s designed to fuel hate. Gross.

    I’ll admit my exposure to this is a bunch of friends of mine who vote Democratic but don’t really follow politics that closely. They would LOVE to see Michelle run, and I’ve repeatedly said “it’s. not. going. to. happen.”

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    Stop the Presses!
    Dean Phillips drops out!

  33. Barry says:

    @MarkedMan: ” I think you are attibuting to malice what is better explained by clicks. NYT makes money on each click, people (Dem or Repub or Indep) are more likely to click on “Biden is so old!” stories. QED.”

    Which ignores a massive treasure trove of possible stories about Trump.

  34. Kathy says:


    I’ve been watching videos from a pastry chef that debunk popular (ie viral) cooking videos and hacks. I don’t have a link handy, but she can be found, I think, by searching her name, Anne Reardon, and her channel’s name, How To Cook That.

    Anyway, she rails against content farms that just produce lots of videos to drive engagement, without consideration of the quality or even feasibility of what they show. She often explains that more engagement means more money, and in many cases it doesn’t even matter if the engagement is positive or negative. That is, a video that racks up 100,000 dislikes is as engaging as one with 100,000 likes.

    Ok, NYT stories and op eds are not Youtube videos, but they are content. They need to produce a lot of it and drive engagement.

  35. EddieInCA says:


    Hamas also looks like it will pass on the cease fire, condemning thousands or tens of thousands more Gazans to death through starvation, disease or Israeli military offensive.

    And to a HUGE group of Democratic Progressives, it will be Biden’s fault for not being able to unilaterally create a ceasefire. Or else it will be Israel’s fault for Hamas rejecting the cease fire.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    you can punch way above your weight

    I wouldn’t think so given that telemarketing/cold calling converts at about one percent (unless it’s become more successful since I did it in my youth). I have no reason to believe that politics is any easier to sell to people who don’t want to buy anything than Time-Life books, steak knives, or evangelistic crusades.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    These are influence and shaping campaigns, which I believe, are designed to keep Ds and Lean Ds on pins and needles to go vote–

    Add that most of us frequently only look at/cite polls that are endorsing what we already believe, and…

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Barry: They run plenty of stories about Trump! Most are negative. They get clicks too.

  39. Tony W says:

    @Scott: We have a whole statue of that “kiss” here in San Diego down by the tuna harbor.

    We call it the “Sexual Assault” statue.

  40. Grumpy Realist says:

    @DrDaveT: c’etait un piege!

    ( the only serious comment made in the entire movie.)

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Sure, if your goal is to elect a President, your efforts aren’t going to move the needle much even at 6x or 7x power magnification due to non-engagement from most of the electorate. But at the local level? Hell yeah. And that stuff affects you more immediately and more directly than anything happening at the federal level. Hell, virtually every election I can remember from the last 25 years has had some wingos running for the school board, including the last one. You’ve gotta stay on them and do a little investigating to find out the woman who’s little bio splash says she’s “concerned about raising educational standards” is a religious fanatic who home schools her kids and thinks satanism is being taught in the Public schools.

    I’ve never called or written my Federal or State Senators or Reps since moving back into MD, but I’ve contacted my local people a dozen times for everything from a broken walkway light that was maintained by the city of Baltimore but was outside my house, to, back when I was living in a small exurban town outside of Annapolis, a rogue trumper-infested volunteer fire department secretly attempting to long term lease a good chunk of the town park that abutted “their” building to a cellular carrier to erect a 200 foot tall cellular antenna and surround it with an ugly chain link fence. This would have been at literally the very center of our very pleasant and tiny town, right on the street at the main intersection. It took a lot of meetings, petitions, reasoned conversations, working with lawyers, everything. We had them shut down when I moved out and I hope to god it stayed that way. So yeah, the fact that 80% of the souls in that little town barely paid attention to what was going on was frustrating, but there was the up side that those were people we only had to devote minimal time to until just before a meeting or a vote.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Outside of my experience. Where I live the only sane people running for office are running for school board, city council, port commission, and so on. Even at that, the same 15 or 20 people have been running for the same offices the whole 30 years since I first moved to the area. I think voters mostly vote for whichever one isn’t currently in office.

    ETA: Then again, the “city” I live in has a population of about 10,000. The district in Baltimore you live in is probably more populous.

  43. CSK says:

    Sebastian “The Dragon of Budapest” Gorka says he knows who Trump’s VP pick is, but he can’t say.

  44. Kathy says:


    Yeah. I know and I can say. But I don’t want to.

  45. al Ameda says:


    Sebastian “The Dragon of Budapest” Gorka says he knows who Trump’s VP pick is, but he can’t say.

    My guesses, in order are:
    Kristi Noem
    Elise Stefanik
    Tim Scott
    Vivek Ramaswamy
    Tucker Carlson (would have him higher but Trump hates those who might get more attention)
    Robert Kennedy Jr.

  46. Kathy says:

    Recently I read a book on the development of ENIAC, and how its two main inventors fared afterwards.

    We all know how much more capable today’s computers are, how much smaller, cheaper etc. But the biggest advance, IMO, is that the user interface has become simple. take a look at the control panel of a UNIVAC I computer from the early 50s.

    Notice there’s no screen.

  47. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @al Ameda:

    The Gork did drop one hint–that the pick was someone who’d “proven himself in Congress.”

  48. gVOR10 says:

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Biden lost a primary yesterday. One Jason Palmer beat Biden 51 – 40 in American Samoa. Those are ballots, not percentages. That gives each three of American Samoa’s six convention delegates out of an eventual 4,672.

    I bet there are hardly any Palestinian-American voters in American Samoa, yet Biden lost. Dems in Disarray! /s

  49. Gustopher says:


    I dislike the tendency to unskew polls, but it’s true some of these polls have some strange crosstabs.

    There’s a big difference between unskewing polls, “unskewing” polls, and figuring out that some polls are just garbage.

    There’s a long tradition with polling of large enough datasets to weight the responses by demographic to better match the expected electorate. It requires the demographic subsets to be large enough to be likely representative, it’s tough statistics, and you are mindful of the margins of error throughout, which will grow. This is a perfectly reasonable thing with lots of known issues and risks.

    Then there are the people who just wishcast because they believe Obama Phones all had their numbers sent to the polling agencies or other nonsense.

    And then there’s seeing a poll with 936 respondents that is 5% more male than the population, 6% more Republican and has only 40 Black people but who are showing an unprecedented swing to Republicans. That’s just garbage that can’t be fixed, or represents some significant swings in the population that need to be confirmed with a much larger dataset.

    It’s not unskewing or “unskewing” to reject the poll. I would even say it makes sense to reject other polls from the same pollster as deeply suspect — if you are that far off from “knowns” with your respondents, you probably need to keep calling people until you get a pool of responses that looks a bit more like America, and if the polling firm doesn’t do that and publishes results anyway… not good.

    It’s possible that either a lot of women have died, or that a lot of people transitioned from female to male. It’s possible that far more Americans are identifying as Republicans. It’s possible that Black folks are turning towards Republicans. It’s even possible that all three are happening at once. But with a tiny sample set (and these polls have tiny sample sets) it’s far more likely that the random selection isn’t as random as hoped, or just randomly hit weird clusters.


    Same with odd leftward skews, but we haven’t seen as many of those, which makes me wonder if there is something about the selection processes that is breaking down (getting a random sample is HARD). But that is getting dangerously close to “unskewing” in the worst way.

  50. al Ameda says:


    The Gork did drop one hint–that the pick was someone who’d “proven himself in Congress.”

    So …. Tim Scott, I mean South Carolina is safe as a Confederate/Republican stronghold.
    Or JD Vance, who is nearly as ethics-free as Trump, and he supports selling out the Ukraine too.

  51. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:

    I was thinking Vance, too. Yuck. He has to be in contention for the title of sleaziest public figure.

  52. Kathy says:


    I think Lardass wants someone unmemorable, boring, gray, uncharismatic, not too old, not too young, not less repulsive than him (unless absolutely necessary), obedient, submissive, not smart, not an idiot, not stubborn, not a doormat, who won’t ever upstage him, and who also happens not to be Mike Pence.

  53. CSK says:


    I agree, but guys like Pence are very scarce on the ground.

  54. Kathy says:

    This is a bit sad: Voyager 1 appears to have reached advanced senescence. The poor thing is sending back random streams of bits that make no sense.

    It’s not quite a fitting end to the second most prolific space probes we’ve managed to launch so far (the most prolific is Voyager 2).

  55. Beth says:


    and you are mindful of the margins of error throughout

    I’ve got a cold and am not thinking so good. When I read this wondered to myself, what is a “margarita of error” and where do I get one.

  56. Kathy says:


    One made with vodka instead of tequila, because all alcohols are the same?

    If it were a margarita of fatal error, it would be made with wood alcohol.

  57. Kurtz says:


    You’re comparing a 6 hour series to a 2 hour and 20 minute movie. Those things are not comparable. The film has a ton going for it, but if one is expecting it to have the same richness and depth as something that is almost three times the length is to guarantee disappointment.

    It’s a little like comparing the film adaptation of The World According to Garp to the source material. There is no way to adapt that book for film without losing a ton of what makes the novel work. The only way to fairly evaluate the film is on its cinematic merits. To tell the same story as the novel, it would have to be a series.

  58. Franklin says:

    @gVOR10: I did see that. Palmer was campaigning on improving the Samoan education system or something. Seems worthwhile, I’m guessing Biden could redirect 0.00000001% of our annual military outlays to that and make it world-class.