Trump Supporters Have Cooler Feelings Towards Many Groups, Compared to Supporters of Other Candidates

By Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee

It’s essentially settled that Donald Trump will be the Republican standard bearer for the 2016 election, and pundits are now fumbling to explain his unprecedented path to the nomination. In doing so, many focus on the uniqueness of Trump’s appeal to certain voters. We ourselves have contributed several pieces to the genre, demonstrating the strong connection between racially resentful attitudes and support for Trump among white people. Any human phenomenon will be complex and nuanced, so a certain amount of humility is required. In our newest analysis, we examine the feelings expressed by Trump supporters towards a variety of groups in America. The results are pretty clear: compared to supporters of other Republican candidates in the primary, Trump supporters really dislike many groups in America. For these voters, Trump’s blend of casual racism and muscular nativism is the core of his appeal.

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New Scholarship: Poli Sci Fi

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By Meredith Conroy

Today on the blog we are featuring new scholarship from Boise State political science professors Michael Allen and Justin Vaughn. Their new edited volume entitled Poli Sci Fi: An Introduction to Political Science though Science Fiction (Routledge), brings together a series of thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining essays to explain fundamental political science theories and concepts through science fiction. The 16 chapters are organized into six different parts, with each part covering a core topic of political science, such as political institutions, behavior, and identity. Moreover, each chapter concludes with a set of readymade discussion questions, making it an easy to adopt text for political science faculty who want to liven up their course with the use of film, literature, and television.

I asked Michael and Justin a few questions about this innovative and exciting book. Below are their responses.

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Failure and Success in the Academy

By Susan Sterett, Jennifer Diascro, and Judith Grant

The Western Political Science Association’s Status on Women in the Profession Committee is pleased to introduce a new feature here at The New West blog, geared toward discussions of professional development and reflections on the academy, for seasoned, aspiring, and new political scientists. Our own experiences at different institutions and with different job searches, position us to reflect on the field honestly and openly.

For this series’ inaugural post we aim to contribute to the renewed discussion on success and failure in higher education. In this context, there are several important themes that we touch on below, and we encourage contributions from the WPSA membership on these issues by emailing your ideas to Meredith Conroy ( As we’ve been thinking about current discussions of success and failure, we find room for four different dimensions that are easy to forget in thinking about success and failure as attributes of individuals. These include pressures: (1) on higher education to deliver more while diversifying funding; (2) on individual faculty to produce, and teach students in more complex ways; (3) on institutions to support the health and success off students, and address multiple needs; (4) on faculty to integrate our work with our responsibilities to our families and communities. Below we think more about all of these, and invite stories from members of WPSA in an effort to continue this conversation.

And in this spirit, we would like to encourage you to register for our short course at the APSA conference in Philadelphia in September on Unlocking Success with Failure.  This half-day short course will focus on unlocking our success – as individuals and institutions – by exploring the failures in our personal and institutional stories. We will do so in the context of the many interdisciplinary intellectual frameworks that illuminate failure as inevitable and necessary for achievement.

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The Republicans’ Rules Dilemma


By Boris Heersink

In recent days the Republican Party has seen major conflict regarding the rules governing the 2016 presidential nomination race.

Frustrated with Ted Cruz’s success in sweeping delegates selected at local and state party meetings, Donald Trump has called the delegate selection process “rigged.” Although Trump and the RNC have clashed several times since last summer, his recent criticism is more severe, threatening the party with a “rough July” at the convention.

Meanwhile, Bruce Ash, the chairman of the RNC’s rules committee, has accused GOP leaders of improperly impeding changes in the party’s rules. Ash wants to create a rule to limit the candidates delegates can vote for at the convention to just Trump and Cruz. Other party leaders – including RNC chairman Reince Priebus – are trying to prevent such a change.

The RNC finds itself in an impossible position: if it changes the convention rules, the party limits itself to two candidates who seem unlikely to do well in the general election. On the other hand, if it maintains the rules as is, it keeps open the option of selecting another presidential nominee by ignoring the voices of millions of Republicans who voted in the primaries and caucuses.

This conflict is unique in its severity, and the extent to which party leaders are fighting it out in public. But it also illuminates the complexity of the current process through which political parties select their presidential candidates – pinpointing not only the importance of the primaries, but also of the complicated subsequent phase of delegate selection and convention management. Continue reading

Approaches to Transgender Politics and Inequality in Political Science

By Zein Murib

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North Carolina’s HB2, which was recently signed into law, criminalizes transgender and gender nonconforming people for using restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identities. The rapid passage of the bill in just 24-hours that didn’t allow for public comment or debate, as well as the claim that HB2 legislates discrimination against people who are trans and gender nonconforming, has drawn widespread scrutiny from across North Carolina and the U.S. An unlikely chorus of voices have come together to call for repeal, including interest groups, activists, governors, mayors, universities, and big business as well as an informal cultural ban that has resulted in Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr cancelling upcoming performances in North Carolina.

Although most of the media attention has been directed to North Carolina, legislation such as HB2 is not singular. Similar “bathroom bills” have been introduced or debated in a growing list of states that include Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, all of which seek to specify in varying ways that – in the language of North Carolina’s HB2 – people can only use facilities corresponding to their “biological sex as on a person’s birth certificate.”

I have written elsewhere about the implications of these bills for people who are transgender and gender nonconforming. Here, I address two different questions: What are these “bathroom bills” and how can we, as political scientists, use these contemporary political developments to teach about transgender politics and inequality in our courses?

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The People, the Senate, and the Supreme Court

By Remy Smith

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death has led to a constitutional showdown between Senate Republicans and President Obama over the conservative justice’s replacement. The inevitable brinksmanship and bargaining of this moment – an extension and culmination of the past five years’ gridlock and conflict – is further exacerbated by electoral antics. While most of the reasons for this confrontation have been analyzed, understood, and twisted to support ideological convictions, one culprit has yet to be vetted: Senate apportionment.

As will be shown, the Senate’s undemocratic apportionment inflates the number of Republicans in the chamber, which, in turn, alters the political dialogue over the Court’s nomination. Rather than discussing whether the Republicans would filibuster President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, or who Obama could nominate to attract Republican support to overcome a filibuster, current discourse centers around Republican refusal to even hold nomination hearings. Though ultimate outcome might not change, the findings call into question Senate deliberation and process, both now and in times when a different apportionment scheme would give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority.

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Racial Resentment and the Rise of Donald Trump

By Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee

What explains the rise of Donald Trump? 

There are many potential answers, but over the course of the campaign two competing theories have emerged. The first holds that Trump’s message appeals to working-class white voters who’ve seen their incomes remain stagnant, manufacturing jobs vanish, and inequality skyrocket in recent decades. The root cause of Trumpism, in this view, is economic insecurity. The other, blunter theory is that Trump’s fans flock to him for the same reason elites view him as an existential threat to American democracy: his open appeals to racist, white nationalist sentiment.

Both of these theories have some truth to them. But polling data suggests that racial attitudes, including racial resentment and explicit racial stereotypes, are the more important factor.What’s more, the evidence presented below shows that racial attitudes uniquely predict support for Trump, compared to the other Republican candidates.

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