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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