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Have Twitter Bots Infiltrated the 2016 Election?

Donald Trump’s Twitter game is incredible. His posting frequency would make an RSS feed envious. And each tweet, unlike the dozens of campaign press advisories sent every day, has a significant chance of showing up in the news the next morning.

But what is most impressive is his ability to conjure thousands of retweets and likes from supporters—on literally anything he says. Take this:

Trump was notifying his fans that he would appear, in 20 minutes, on a show where he is frequently interviewed. This is normal and expected. And yet more than 2,000 people retweeted this post, and another 9,000 favorited it. That’s not quite Bieber-level, but it’s still pretty good.

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The New York billionaire is undoubtedly popular. But some have offered a more subtle explanation for Trump’s virality. In April, Patrick Ruffini, a political digital consultant in Alexandria, Virginia, posted a spreadsheet of nearly 500 pro-Trump Twitter accounts that had tweeted, in unison, a message encouraging voters...

Why the Next President Will Inherit a Divided Country

One of the driving forces of modern American politics has been the kaleidoscopic reshaping of the electorate, as minorities have steadily increased their share of the vote while whites—particularly those without advanced education—have declined. But these trends have affected the two parties in strikingly different ways, likely to further diverge in 2016.

As the first chart shows, the change in the overall electorate has been steady—and profound. Since Ronald Reagan’s landslide reelection in 1984, working-class whites—defined as those whites without a college degree—have plummeted from around three-fifths of all voters in presidential elections to just over one-third in 2012. The share of the vote cast by whites with a college degree increased from just over one-fourth in 1984 to slightly more than one-third in the 1992 election (Bill Clinton’s first victory) and has largely stabilized there since.

Filling the space left by the receding white working-class constituency, minority voters have consistently grown their share, from just 11 percent in 1984 to 28 percent in 2012. If the 2016 electorate follows these historic trends, minorities would likely rise to 30 or 31 percent of the vote, college-educated whites will remain about constant, and the...

The Trump-Clinton Race Is Not As Close As It Looks

The latest round of polls re­leased pri­or to Me­mori­al Day week­end, which showed Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump in a vir­tu­al tie, set off in­tense hand-wringing among Demo­crats, Clin­ton back­ers, and Trump de­tract­ors alike. They much pre­ferred the polls from a month earli­er giv­ing the former sec­ret­ary of State a double-di­git lead over the real-es­tate mogul.  

What’s lost on many people is that any tri­al heat between Trump and Clin­ton today is like com­par­ing apples and or­anges. Trump’s nom­in­a­tion fight is over while Clin­ton’s con­test is still at a messy stage. Re­pub­lic­ans who backed one of the 16 oth­er GOP can­did­ates have co­alesced to a sig­ni­fic­ant de­gree, pain­fully pro­gress­ing through Eliza­beth Kü­bler-Ross’s five stages of grief: deni­al, an­ger, bar­gain­ing, de­pres­sion, and ac­cept­ance.

Many es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures, who I nev­er thought would come to terms with...

The Real Scandal of Hillary Clinton's Emails

In a February 23 hearing on a Freedom of Information Act request for Hillary Clinton’s official State Department emails—emails that don’t exist because Hillary Clinton secretly conducted email on a private Blackberrry connected to a private server—District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan exclaimed, “How in the world could this happen?” 

That’s the key question. What matters about the Clinton email scandal is not the nefarious conduct that she sought to hide by using her own server. There’s no evidence of any such nefarious conduct. What matters is that she made an extremely poor decision: poor because it violated State Department rules, poor because it could have endangered cyber-security, and poor because it now constitutes a serious self-inflicted political wound. Why did such a smart, seasoned public servant exercise such bad judgment? For the same reason she has in the past: Because she walls herself off from alternative points of view.

In the journalistic reconstructions of Clinton’s decision, two things become clear. First, State Department security experts strongly opposed it. As the Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr. reported in a terrific piece in March, “State Department security officials were distressed about the...

The Trump Comparison You Have Not Heard Yet

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has provided pundits with ample opportunity to claim that we have reached an all-time low in terms of fractiousness, divisiveness and vulgarity.

Not so. A quick look to the Classical world lays to rest such a naive assumption.

Politics under any system of government is always a dirty business. But the Athenian political system is tied particularly closely to our own because it was – I’m tempted to say first and foremost – a spectator sport. Much of the time, meetings of the Athenian Assembly resembled an explosive televised debate, as politicians vied with each other in what was often the equivalent of a popularity contest.

We’re lucky to know so much about the workings of Athenian democracy in large part due to the writings of Athenian historian Thucydides. In the course of narrating the history of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides incorporated many pairs of speeches arguing opposing points of view that reveal how politicians sought to put down, outmaneuver and even humiliate their rivals.

Any student of Greek history, like me, cannot but admire the historian’s unparalleled understanding of the invisible web that every ambitious, skillful and ruthless politician must weave...

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