Politics & Polls #124: The Battle for America

Jan 31, 2019
B. Rose Kelly
Woodrow Wilson School

Candidates have begun launching their 2020 presidential campaigns, prompting many to look back at Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016.

In this episode, Sam Wang interviews Michael Tesler, co-author of a compelling book about how the 2016 election was not just a battle for the White House, but for what America “should be.”

Tesler co-authored “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America Hardcover,” with John Sides and Lynn Vavreck. The book was published in October 2018 by Princeton University Press.

Tesler is associate professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, and author of “Obama’s Race,” also published by the University of Chicago Press. He studies American politics, ethnicity and politics, and quantitative methods.


Wang is a professor at Princeton University, appointed in neuroscience with affiliate appointments in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center for Information Technology Policy. An alumnus of Caltech, where he received a B.S. with honors in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. He has also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He is noted for his application of data analytics and poll aggregation to American politics. He is leading an effort at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to build a 50-state data resource for legislative-quality citizen redistricting. His work to define a state-level legal theory to limit partisan gerrymandering recently won Common Cause’s Gerrymandering Standard Writing Contest. His neuroscience research concerns how the brain learns from sensory experience in early life, adulthood and autism.