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Hidden Patterns in Presidential Voting

In predicting presidential voting in the United States, don't sweat the small stuff, political scientist Nathan Collins explains to Curiouser & Curiouser host Jai Ranganathan.

With the Republican field finally solidifying, the 2012 presidential campaign season is finally off to the races.

For the next 16 months, political pundits will spend hour after hour analyzing the most minor twist and turns in the campaigns — even though almost all of the day-to-day political zigs and zags will make no difference to voters in the end.

But what if even the big issues — like the economy and the multiple wars that we are engaged in — didn't matter to voters either? According to Nathan Collins, a political scientist at the Santa Fe Institute, if you look at voting behavior over decades, that is exactly the case. In this podcast,  Collins discusses a recent study of his, published in the Journal of Politics, where he shows that there is a hidden order to patterns of voting that is largely unaffected by even major events.


Jai Ranganathan’s travel to the Santa Fe Institute was arranged and paid for by the institute.


Music used in the podcast include Bring It On No Vox by Jamie Miller and David Matheson and Hail to the Chief by the U.S. Army Band