The 2020 US election was a major event, with huge consequences for both the US and the world. But in both houses of Congress, the Democrats’ hold on power is razor thin. The result is a riot of speculation about the future of the country that still likes to style itself the “Leader of the Free World.” Many foreign observers and Democrats, who never warmed to Trump anyway, keep wondering out how he could possibly have rolled up more than seventy-four million votes – as he said, more than any sitting president in history. Conversely, supporters of the former President and members of the Republican establishment advance all kinds of theories, some quite outlandish, to explain how the Democrats managed to win. Meanwhile everyone is pondering the long term implications of the Trump movement’s transformation into an openly anti-system political formation uncomfortably reminiscent of the Weimar Republic as well as the breath-taking way big tech companies selectively shut off access to their systems following the storming of the Capitol. The presentation reports in a preliminary way on research conducted with Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen. We formally model differences in county voting between 2016 and 2020. We draw on much new data involving mass protests, industrial structures, and other variables rarely used to analyze popular vote patterns.
BIO | THOMAS FERGUSON IS THE RESEARCH DIRECTOR AT THE INSTITUTE FOR NEW ECONOMIC THINKING. HE IS PROFESSOR EMERITUS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, BOSTON AND SENIOR FELLOW AT BETTER MARKETS. HE RECEIVED HIS PH.D. FROM PRINCETON UNIVERSITY AND TAUGHT FORMERLY AT MIT AND THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN. HE IS THE AUTHOR OR COAUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS, INCLUDING GOLDEN RULE (UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, 1995) AND RIGHT TURN (HILL & WANG, 1986). HIS ARTICLES HAVE APPEARED IN MANY SCHOLARLY JOURNALS, INCLUDING THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION, INTERNATIONAL STUDIES QUARTERLY, STRUCTURAL CHANGE AND ECONOMIC DYNAMICS, AND THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC HISTORY. HE IS A MEMBER OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND A LONGTIME CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT THE NATION.