Politics & Polls #93: What-Ifs

May 30, 2018
B. Rose Kelly
Woodrow Wilson School

In politics, like sports, moments arise that beg the question, “What if?” In baseball, some think, “What if the runner on third had made it home?” Politics is not quite different. Winners and losers in both, pivotal moments leave us wondering: what if it had happened differently?

Joining this week’s episode to discuss the great what-ifs - of both sports and politics - is Mike Pesca, a radio journalist who is host of Slate magazine's daily podcast, The Gist

Pesca recently published a book, “Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History,” about a number of counterfactual sporting scenarios. The book includes a number of historical and political essays, including one penned by Julian Zelizer, co-host of Politics & Polls with Sam Wang.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also a CNN Political Analyst and columnist for the Atlantic. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society," which was just awarded the DB Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. He has edited and authored 19 books on American political history and published over 700 hundred op-eds, including his popular weekly column on CNN.com.

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.