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Eight Political Scientists Who Will Make Sense of 2017

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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With the calendar turning from the election season to the governing season, it’s time for everyone to stock up on experts to turn to for guidance.  I’ll recommend several political scientists who write publicly -- bloggers, tweeters, columnists -- to help explain the political system in 2017.

Julia Azari blogs at Mischiefs of Faction and elsewhere and tweets about the presidency, parties and plenty of other topics. I’ve linked to her often in my Early Returns newsletter (you do subscribe, right?) and I highlight her here especially because of her work on presidential mandates, in which she explains why mandates aren’t quite the fictional things clever pundits tend to think they are.  

A greater-than-usual number of people are going to want to know about obscure House and Senate procedure in 2017, and Josh Huder, who tweets and blogs at Rule22 and elsewhere, is an excellent source for everything from party leadership to changes in the filibuster. See for example this quick explainer on reconciliation.

This podcast from Casey Dominguez and two colleagues would be the absolute top of my listening list -- although, full disclosure, I’m not much of a listener to podcasts. She studies the presidency and parties. The podcast is wide-ranging across U.S. politics. 

Elizabeth Saunders blogs at the Monkey Cage and tweets about international relations and how foreign policy gets made within the U.S. government. Excellent on the intersection between elected officials, political appointees and the permanent bureaucracy -- which is going to be a critical topic going forward. 

Matt Glassman used to blog, but now he tweets, often in elongated threads. He’s an expert on Congress, on democracy and on American political development -- which means he knows about 19th-century stuff and how examples from history can illuminate the present. 

David Karol is one of the co-authors of “The Party Decides,” and he’s a scholar of parties and American political institutions. Plus he just has an enormous amount of obscure knowledge about American politics. He blogs occasionally at the Monkey Cage. Here’s hoping this post will egg him on to write publicly more often.

I agree strongly with Lee Drutman, who writes at Polyarchy and other locations and tweets, about congressional capacity. He’s also an expert on lobbying and money in politics. It’s going to be an important topic for the next couple of years, and he's well-equipped to explain what’s happening.

Sarah Binder is an expert on Congress, and she’s also invaluable on the history and current structure of the Federal Reserve. Which makes her invaluable for those interested in how the new administration and a Republican Congress will affect the economy. She tweets, and she blogs at the Monkey Cage and Brookings.  

And I’ll leave you with a few more. On the presidency: Andrew Rudalevige, who blogs at the Monkey Cage; Matthew Dickinson, who has his own blog. On Congress: Molly Reynolds writes at Brookings, and Greg Koger writes at the Monkey Cage and Mischiefs of Faction.

  1. Except for off-year elections and special elections. And the important recruitment period for the 2018 midterm elections. And, like it or not, early stirrings of the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination battle, and perhaps even hints of a challenge for the Republican nomination if Donald Trump’s approval ratings are as bad in a few months as his transition polling hints. Face it: Election season never goes away. 

  2. I'm recommending scholars because, well, I'm a political scientist. Journalists and other non-academic writers, as well as current and former practitioners of politics -- all can be excellent sources of information and insight. Not to mention historians and academics from other fields outside political science. But I'll leave those suggestions for later.

  3. Some disclosure: Casey and I have co-authored in the past. I should say, too, that I know all the political scientists I recommend, some in person, some not. That’s the nature of the discipline, especially those who write publicly; there just aren’t that many of us, and I make it my business to get to know as many as I can. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.net