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Study: Jon Stewart leaving ‘Daily Show’ helped Trump win presidency
It's no joke.
- A new study used Comedy Central ratings and political survey data to examine whether the departure of Jon Stewart from "The Daily Show" had a causal effect on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
- The researchers found that it had a 1.1 percent effect on voter turnout, an amount that could've proved decisive in such a narrow election.
- The researchers used causal language in the study, but cautioned that Stewart's departure was one of many factors that decided the election.
Jon Stewart was once asked to describe his importance as a political commentator on The Daily Show. He replied: "On a scale of zero to 10, I'd go with a zero, not very important."
That was dead wrong, according to a new study that suggests Stewart's 2015 departure from the left-leaning show caused not only a drop in ratings, but also a slight drop in voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election – enough to tip the scales in favor of President Donald Trump.
It sounds like a wild claim. But study authors Ethan Portera and Thomas J. Wood pointed to past research showing that many Americans who aren't politically engaged often consume news from comedy sources, in particular from "The Daily Show". Other research shows that audiences are more likely to view political figures and issues in a more favorable light when presented in a comedic context, rather than, say, on a network news show. So, considering Jon Stewart's replacement Trevor Noah has received lower ratings and fewer viewers, it stands to reason that some Americans were less inclined to get out and vote Democrat in 2016.
The researchers suggest Stewart's key influence over the nation was to mobilize voters, not necessarily to make liberal converts out of conservatives.
"'The Daily Show's' ratings decline was negatively associated with voter turnout — suggesting that Stewart's role in the election is understood in relationship to mobilization, rather than persuasion."
The study authors also examined Stephen Colbert's departure from his eponymous show in 2014, finding similar but weaker effects. To conduct their analysis, the researchers used data from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) and extensive ratings data for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Colbert Report, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Key and Peele, South Park, and Inside Amy Schumer.
Using a 'difference in differences' statistical approach, the analysis incorporated socioeconomic controls – including educational attainment, racial composition, and income — and also controlled for the general decline of all Comedy Central shows during this period. The results showed that only The Daily Show seemed to have influenced voter behavior in the 2016 presidential election.
"By our estimate, the ratings decline at The Daily Show was associated with a 1.11 percentage point increase in Republican presidential vote share at the county level, significant by conventional standards," adding that the observations "cannot be explained away by broader trends in cable and Comedy Central."
Credit: Wood & Portera
It seems a small but influential share of Stewart's audience might've been a decisive factor in the election.
"... as previous studies have shown, the viewers Stewart and Colbert most affected were otherwise politically disengaged and uninformed," the researchers wrote. "As Zaller (2004) demonstrates, such voters are precisely the most likely voters to shift partisan allegiances between presidential elections. When the shows' ratings declined and those viewers went elsewhere, their politics likely changed as a result."
Although the study authors suggest that Jon Stewart's departure was causal in the outcome of the 2016 election, they do note that it wasn't the only factor.
"Stewart's departure and the decline in ratings data, we contend, was one among many factors that possibly contributed to the surprising election result of 2016," they wrote.
What about "The Colbert Report"?
Why did Colbert's Comedy Central show not seem to have the same effects as Stewart's?
One reason might be the peculiar mechanics of satire and parody. Audiences of The Colbert Report might have been able to enjoy the satire no matter their politics; Republicans might've been able to laugh at the tongue-in-cheek jokes delivered by Colbert's hard-right character, while Democrats might've laughed because they felt "in" on the joke. Here's how the study authors described it:
"While The Daily Show was unflappably sincere in its political and partisans commitments, The Colbert Report was entirely satirical," the authors wrote. "Decoding the humor and parsing out the political content of the latter likely required a great deal more political sophistication than the former. Not watching The Colbert Report may have depressed one's interest in politics generally; but not watching The Daily Show may have depressed one's interest in supporting the Democratic Party, and opposing the Republican Party, specifically."
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.