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Study Group with Arnon Mishkin: Measuring and Shaping Public Opinion in a Polarized America

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By Institute of Politics

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 5:00pm

Arnon Mishkin

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021 5:00pm

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Join us on Wednesday, September 15 at 5:00pm ET for a Study Group with IOP Resident Fellow Arnon Mishkin. Arnon Mishkin has led the Fox News election night decision team since 2008, leveraging election day voter polling, sample precincts, and actual vote results to estimate results of all statewide and congressional contests. He has worked as part of the team since 1998, and directed its coverage in the historic 2020 presidential election.

 “America is Divided” has become a truism: Americans follow different media, they admire different types of leaders, and they often embrace different “facts” based on their partisan leanings. Arguably, polarization has been the foundation of American politics for much of our history. Much of it centers on race – manifest in the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights eras, and the social unrest of today. But it is also evident in the urban-rural divide, since the arguments over federalism that were at the core of the original Constitutional Convention and continue in debates about the Electoral College and the nature of the US Senate.

Most every successful Republican and Democratic campaign through 2020 has followed a variant of this framework. It has landed us in a place no one expected: two separate realities—Republican vs. Democratic, rural vs. urban, masked vs. unmasked—living in bubbles where we only meet those with whom we are in basic agreement within a nation where we are all divided. It has both affected and been affected by all elements of the political system: campaigns, voting laws and processes, and media coverage of campaigns and elections. With our unique perspective from four decades of involvement in the analysis of polling and election results, we propose this proposed study group to put this polarization into its historical context and to identify the confluence of economic, legal, media, and structural factors that have fueled it. 

From Bull Run and Bull Connor to “Build the Wall,” and “Defund the Police: How Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” Solidified the Definition of the American Political Map: The polarization of America characterizes almost all elections post-1964. We will review those elections focusing on two core themes: The “Goldwater/Wallace vote” that turned the southern states Republican, and how the populist movements (Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and Donald Trump) manifest themselves in presidential election campaigns. We will focus on America’s cleavage along racial, urban, and sectarian grounds, culminating and what the impact is. Our focus is on patterns from both the actual results, as well as from voter polls conducted by media.

*The Institute of Politics is strictly observing all HKS COVID health and safety protocols. HKS buildings are closed to the public and attendance will be limited to the room capacity. You will be asked to show a Harvard ID prior to entry and doors to the space will open 10 minutes before the start time. Unvaccinated persons should make every effort to practice social distancing. Everyone must wear a mask indoors. No eating or drinking is permitted at indoor events.

*RSVP by 12:00pm ET by Tuesday, 9/14. You must register through this form and a limited number of seats will be allocated for in-person participation. We will notify you the evening before the study group via your Harvard email whether you will be joining in-person or via Zoom. 

*AUDIENCE: These conversations are open to members of the Harvard community. Please RSVP with a valid Harvard email address.

*OFF-THE-RECORD: In keeping with our long tradition at the IOP to ensure honest and candid discussions of politics, all IOP study groups are off-the-record.

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