Politics & Polls #101: The Centrist Paradox

Aug 01 2018
By B. Rose Kelly
Topics Politics
Source Woodrow Wilson School
The United States and Europe have seen a rise in outsider political movements, with more voters supporting populist authoritarian leaders who buck traditional cultural values than in the recent past. 
In this episode, Sam Wang interviews researcher and writer David R. K. Adler, who argues, contrary to contemporary belief, that centrists — not those on the political left and right extremes — are the driving force behind this hostility toward democracy. 
Adler explains how this “centrist paradox” may be influencing elections, weakening democratic institutions and sharpening political divides.

Adler is a writer and researcher based in London, United Kingdom. His work focuses on the political economy of urban development: how cities grow, how their demographics change, how movements resist these changes, and how governments respond to those movements. He has written about these themes for a variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Jacobin Magazine, and Current Affairs. 


Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.