Most independents are about as “moderate” as the partisans they profess not to be.

Hand dropping a ballot into a ballotbox
Hand dropping a ballot into a ballotbox

If you’re an observer of American politics, you’ve probably heard a lot about “Political Independents” — people who insist that they don’t identify with either the Republican or Democratic parties. They’re often treated as the sober, moderate middle caught between two rabid extremes: polls pin partisans in polar opposition to each other on most salient topics — police reform, election laws, climate action, healthcare policy — while Independents dutifully take their place somewhere in between them.

Across the internet, you can find pictures of art installations where random objects are deliberately placed so that a light shined on them makes…


They’re doing so more often and with far more consistency than any other major national TV news network.

[If] the Hunter Biden e-mail story was engineered to be an “October surprise,” it’s pretty safe to say that it’s fallen flat…

On Tuesday, October 14th the New York Post dropped a report revealing what they claim is a “smoking-gun email” purporting that Hunter Biden introduced his father, then Vice-President and current Presidential nominee Joe Biden, to a top executive at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. It was the first in a series of reports purportedly sourced from a hacked laptop belonging to the younger Biden. …


The game is work, yes. But it’s work with meaning.

I recently came across Lewis Gordon’s piece in The Nation titled “Animal Crossing’s Embrace of Cute, Capitalist Perfection is Not What We Need.” In it, Gordon derides Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a hollow, uncritical work simulator — akin to “clicker” games where empty progress is made by, as the name implies, repeatedly clicking one’s mouse without any other opportunity for meaningful input. At best, the game is “welcomingly pointless.” At worst, it is monotony incarnate, with “stultifying” islands as the only near-tangible reward for the player’s labor.

My PhD dissertation looks at the ways that video games, like Animal…


These youth probably didn’t turn out on Super Tuesday. But for youths old enough to vote, that wasn’t necessarily the case. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday (3/3/2020), 14 states concurrently held their presidential primaries. (The territory of American Samoa held its caucus as well). The quadrennial tradition — commonly called “Super Tuesday” — can often be a pretty big deal. They can make or break the campaigns of presidential aspirants before they even make it to their party’s convention. And, although all the results haven’t been totally resolved, it looks like former Vice President Joe Biden pulled out a number of large, important wins — much to the chagrin of who, after last night, appears to be his lone, chief rival: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.


How proximity to a racetrack affected the vote to ban dog racing in Florida

A greyhound in flight. (Wikipedia: AngMoKio)

On November 6th, 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly decided to ban an activity that had been legal and lucrative for close to 90 years: Greyhound racing. Originally legalized in 1931, Amendment 13 put an expiration date of January 2020 on all dog racing in the state.

The Amendment was one of those rare proposals in today’s hyperpolarized times that actually enjoyed bipartisan support: The amendment was proposed by the then-State Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi, and had support from The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the League of Women Voters, the state’s young Republican caucus —…


President Trump Announces His Reelection Bid (Source: Getty/USA Today)

Last night (June 19th, 2019), President Trump announced that he will seek reelection in 2020. Speaking before a packed crowd in Orlando, Florida, the speech was basically a greatest-hits album from his 2016 run: Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Mainstream Media is Unfair — although it did feature a remix (“Keep America Great Again”) and a new bonus track (“The Russia Investigation was a Witch Hunt”). The event was a (literally, at times) roaring success for the President, helping him rake in nearly 25 million dollars for his campaign.

The fact that President Trump is running for a second term isn’t exactly…


What an analysis of 40 thousand tweets reveals about how we approach our 2019 goals.

It’s the start of a new year! People are changing out calendars, reaching out to loved ones, and deciding on what resolutions they want to try and hold themselves to this year. And if people are doing something (anything really), you can bet that a decent number of them are tweeting about it.

There are articles out there about what the most popular resolutions are, how achieving them won’t make us happy, and how we’re probably not going to achieve them anyways. Cheery. I decided that nothing really looks at how people approach the whole resolution enterprise. So for that…


The Grand Old Party isn’t going away anytime soon.

Perhaps a tad premature.

Recently, I happened across an interesting piece from FiveThirtyEight talking about what the gender gap might look like in the 2018 midterms. For those who didn’t know, over the last few decades, women have been more likely to support Democratic party candidates over Republicans. Political scientists have been calling this difference in support the “gender gap” — because scientists in general tend to be very literal in their naming choices. There are a multitude of reasons why (Democrats tend to run more women, their platform tends to be more pro-choice, etc) but the piece argued that the gender gap may…


Senator John McCain (Source: Flickr)

If you’re anything like me, the recent passing of Senator John McCain hit you like a ton of bricks. The nation knew this was coming; the kind of cancer he had is incredibly aggressive. The impact didn’t stem from surprise. It came from the raw realization that we haven’t just lost one of the nation’s central political actors — we lost bastion of decency in a field tripping over itself to alienate, castigate, and “own” the other.

I have two initial inclinations when I feel strongly about something: Go for a long run or sit down and write. It might…


Hint: They’re not exactly sprinting to the left.

Source: Michael Fleshman/Flickr

A recent Gallup poll has been turning the Internet into a tizzy: not only to a majority of 18–29 year olds have a more positive view about socialism than capitalism (51 vs 45%) but so too do Democrats writ large (57 vs 47%). Cue the reactions from the left and right, which I’m sure were perfectly level-headed and reasonable.

Peter Licari, PhD

I’m a data scientist and social scientist specializing in political behavior. I’m also a runner, writer, gamer, YouTuber, and dinosaur enthusiast.

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