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Divisive, messy, corrupt, chaos
Plus: the problem with "select-all-that-apply," a look at Spanish-speakers, Democrats winning special elections, consultants using AI produced 40% higher quality results
No. 285 | September 22, 2023
📊 Polling & Public Opinion
Reem Nadeem: Americans’ Dismal Views of the Nation’s Politics (Pew Research Center)
“A comprehensive new Pew Research Center study of the state of the nation’s politics finds no single focal point for the public’s dissatisfaction. There is widespread criticism of the three branches of government, both political parties, as well as political leaders and candidates for office.
Notably, Americans’ unhappiness with politics comes at a time of historically high levels of voter turnout in national elections. The elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022 were three of the highest-turnout U.S. elections of their respective types in decades.
But voting in elections is very different from being satisfied with the state of politics – and the public is deeply dissatisfied.”
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“In 2019, the Pew Research Center produced a tidy little analysis comparing two types of survey questions. One was the ‘select-all-that-apply’ format, where you’re presented with a list of things and choose whichever represents your attitudes or experiences. The other was the ‘forced choice’ format, where you see the same list but are asked to provide an answer for each item, such as a yes or no.
The challenge with select-all questions is that respondents are confronted with a list of options that they have to evaluate all at once. As Pew puts it: Responding accurately with respect to each item in the list can require a fair amount of discipline from respondents. Those lacking enough motivation may “satisfice,” or respond only in a satisfactory manner rather than in the most accurate way possible. When presented with a sizeable array of options, respondents may select only some that apply rather than all.
Indeed, the Pew analysis shows that the select-all format underestimates how often people experience different forms of victimization, compared to the forced-choice format.”
“Speaking Spanish can be an important skill, a means of communication and a marker of identity for U.S. Latinos. The Spanish language is a source of pride for some, and many Latino parents encourage their U.S.-born children to speak it. Importantly, the United States has one of the world’s largest Spanish-speaking populations.”
“Democrats just scored a big win in an election on Tuesday: Democrat Hal Rafter defeated Republican James Guzofski 56 percent to 44 percent in a special election to fill a Republican-held seat in the New Hampshire state House. Assuming Democrats win another special election in November in a solidly blue seat, Rafter’s win means the New Hampshire state House will be tied at 198 Republicans and 198 Democrats (with two independents and two seats still vacant). On paper, that will end full Republican control of New Hampshire state government. (In practice, whoever controls the House could change by the day depending on legislator absences.)
It’s also the latest example of Democrats outperforming in a special election, a trend that could be a harbinger of a very good year for Democrats in 2024. This New Hampshire district is 6 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole, according to a weighted average of the 2020 and 2016 presidential results in the district.* Yet Rafter won by 12 points — an 18-point Democratic overperformance above their partisan baseline.”
“Either former president Donald Trump’s standing in early 2024 polls is inflated, or we are headed for a sizable realignment in how non-White voters cast their ballots.
Multiple polls in recent weeks have shown Trump performing historically well among Black and Hispanic voters in head-to-head matchups with President Biden, helping put him neck-and-neck with Biden in a way he rarely was during their 2020 matchup.”
Jonathan Chait: Now Liberals Are Unskewing Polls, Too (Intelligencer)
“It is true that polls are far from perfect. Individual polls are frequently outliers. More than a year away from an election, polling has somewhat limited predictive value, and even on the cusp of an election, the polling averages can sometimes significantly miss the mark (as was the case in 2020).
But the idea that mainstream polling is corruptly slanting its results because it’s being paid for by Trump, or deliberately polling too many Republicans, is ludicrous. To see that kind of paranoia that has long since overtaken conservatism taking root on the mainstream left is a disturbing sign.”
🤖 Artificial Intelligence
Ethan Mollick: Centaurs and Cyborgs on the Jagged Frontier (One Useful Thing)
“A lot of people have been asking if AI is really a big deal for the future of work. We have a new paper that strongly suggests the answer is YES.
For the last several months, I been part of a team of social scientists working with Boston Consulting Group, turning their offices into the largest pre-registered experiment on the future of professional work in our AI-haunted age. Our first working paper is out today. There is a ton of important and useful nuance in the paper but let me tell you the headline first: for 18 different tasks selected to be realistic samples of the kinds of work done at an elite consulting company, consultants using ChatGPT-4 outperformed those who did not, by a lot. On every dimension. Every way we measured performance.
Consultants using AI finished 12.2% more tasks on average, completed tasks 25.1% more quickly, and produced 40% higher quality results than those without. Those are some very big impacts. Now, let’s add in the nuance.”
“They show that there's an interesting tradeoff between density and readability, where the last (most dense) step is not necessarily the most voted for.”
@wpmarble: The white working class has steadily become part of the Republican base while whites w/ college degrees have become Democratic. In a new paper, I study the issue basis of this realignment, showing that both economic and cultural issues have contributed. (X)
“The white working class has long been more conservative than college-educated voters on cultural issues. But in the past ~20 years, college-educated voters have become significantly more liberal on economic issues as well.”
“Which people tend to be more zero-sum? In general respondents who are in urban areas, younger, with lower income or lower educational achievements. Zero-sum thinking also varies by state: respondents in Utah are the least zero-sum; those in NY are among the most zero-sum”