Dr. John Sides, Professor of Political Science and William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair at Vanderbilt University, delivered the 2022 Robert G. Bone Distinguished Lecture as a webinar on February 7, 2022. The Bone Lecture was hosted by the Department of Politics and Government and co-sponsored by the Office of International Studies and Programs. The lecture was titled “The 2020 Election and the Future of American Politics.” About 130 students, faculty, staff, and community members participated in the webinar, and its recording can be accessed here.

Sides’ lecture was based on research that will be published in a forthcoming book he co-authored with Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreck. The presentation discussed the trends leading to the 2020 election, explained the outcome of the 2020 election, and offered some thoughts about the future of American politics.

Sides highlighted gradual, long-term increases in party difference and party polarization, shorter-term increases of party difference on identity-related issues (e.g., immigration), the decreasing likelihood that voters will defect from their party in elections, and party parity, i.e. equality in party size, as the main trends leading up to the 2020 election. He also explained that President Trump’s unpopularity, President’s Biden popularity compared to the Democratic candidate in 2016, and the Trump administration’s ineffectiveness in leveraging the political opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are all factors that explain the outcome of the 2020 election. Finally, in reflecting on the trends leading up to the election and the outcome of the election, Sides offered some thoughts about future political developments, predicting GOP gains in the midterm elections as well as intensifying polarization and the continuation of identity politics. Throughout the lecture, Sides shared a plethora of data presented in visually accessible ways. Following the lecture, Sides answered attendees’ questions.

Sides is a founder and published author of The Monkey Cage, a political science and politics outlet at the Washington Post. Sides is the author of Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and The Battle for the Meaning of AmericaThe Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Election and Campaigns and Election: Rules, Reality, Strategy, Choice. He has published articles in various scholarly journals, including the American Political Science ReviewAmerican Journal of Political ScienceBritish Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Politics