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Monday, October 18, 2010

Politics and Political Science

In The Forum, John Petrocik and Frederick Steeper note that practitioners of politics know some things that academic political science tends not to study:
This essay offers some experience-based observations about electoral phenomena that academic political science misses because of a focus on conceptual and theoretical debates that often take pride of place over the empirical phenomena that gave rise to the ideas and concepts that we highly value. We suggest that academic political science is increasingly committed to models and methods that serve a theory or an idea more than they account for observable empirical regularities. Practitioner methods and innovations for persuading voters and winning elections under varying electoral conditions are largely unknown to scholars, with consequences for our collective factual knowledge and ability to test current hypotheses and theories about elections in an appropriate wide range of circumstances.