Early Returns

Conspiracy Theories, Leaks and Splits

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

1. Brendan Nyhan on Democrats buying conspiracy theories. My view: All of us are vulnerable to this, but its political importance can be diminished if political parties rigorously fight it off. Democrats haven't been perfect over the years, but they've been fairly good; Republicans, not so much, which is (in my view) one reason the party wasn't able to fight off Donald Trump. Democratic politicians and other liberal opinion leaders can't prevent crazy rumors from spreading on social media, but they can keep that kind of thing on the fringes of the party, not in the mainstream.  

2. Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson at the Monkey Cage on the effects of voter identification laws. Turns out that, at least according to this study, these laws are more effective at depressing voting among minorities, especially Latino voters, than previous research indicated. Remember, while voter fraud in the U.S. is real (albeit rare), the only kind of voter fraud that voter identification prevents -- in-person impersonation -- is virtually nonexistent, according to both academic research and a lack of examples produced by the laws' advocates. These are voter suppression laws, nothing more, and they appear to be effective.  

3. Sarah Posner on Trump and American Jews.

4. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight on the House in the 2018 election cycle

5. Susan Hennessey and Helen Klein Murillo at Lawfare with a comprehensive item on leaks, especially national security leaks. I'll add: Generally, leaks from executive-branch agencies (and from the White House and Congress) are a healthy part of the policy-making process, albeit one that can be exploited for nefarious purposes, such as the Kissinger taps. It's worth being wary, however, about leaks within the national security portions of the government, mainly because classified material is a lot harder for the media to double-check and correct. 

6. My Bloomberg View colleague Ramesh Ponnuru on Trump's hiring decisions. Key point: The Senate is constraining Trump, at least to some extent (and he wrote that before the demise of Trump's secretary of Labor nominee). 

7. While my Bloomberg View colleague Francis Wilkinson looks at the split between House and Senate Republicans

8. And Tom Pepinsky writes a short advertisement for political science in these times. 

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