Politics & Polls #7: The Coattail Effect, Gerrymandering & Third-Party Candidates

Aug 10 2016
By Julian Zelizer & Samuel Wang (Produced by Bonelys Rosado and B. Rose Kelly)
Source Woodrow Wilson School
Donald Trump has focused on easing tensions with the Republican Party this week by endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain and Senator Susan Collins. But while these endorsements are intended to unify the ticket, it's not clear whether these Republican candidates actually want Trump's endorsement, as evidenced by Collins's refusal to support Trump. If disaffected Republicans like Collins stay home, this could spell trouble for downticket races.
What kind of effect will these endorsements - and Trump's campaign in general - have on the House and the Senate? Could Trump have inverse coattails, and drag other candidates down? How does gerrymandering complicate this? And how could third-party candidates like Evan McMullin, who joined the race this week, influence the election? Could McMullin give reluctant Republicans a reason to turn out - and help save downticket candidates in the process?
Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss this and more in episode seven of “Politics & Polls.”



Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com

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. In 2012, his statistical analysis correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum and autism.