If following the 2012 presidential election sometimes made you want to scream at your television, imagine how political scientists felt.
As they watched, helpless, the pundits paraded across their screens, spouting theories about the way politics works that academics know to be wrong. In the words of Morris Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford: “Like all election seasons, the 2012 campaign was rich in commentary that was at odds with or unsupported by findings from political science.”
Fiorina is the author of a recent article published in The Forum, a political-research quarterly, that seeks to dismantle some of the most widespread misconceptions. It’s called, fittingly, “If I Could Hold a Seminar for Political Journalists …” (I came to it from a link on George Washington University Professor John Sides’s invaluable blog The Monkey Cage, which educates journalists about political science on a daily basis.)
If you’re a pundit, someone who loves a pundit, or a cable-news viewer who enjoys feeling smarter than the people you see on TV, here’s what you can learn from Fiorina’s analysis.