I’d imagine there’s a very small number of people — dare I say fewer than five — who keep up with my political thoughts solely and only on this blog. So you probably already know most of the information in this post. Nevertheless, for primarily archival and secondarily sentimental reasons, and although no one has actually asked me, I still felt it necessary to answer the same question posed by Drake and Future in 2015: Where Ya At?
Since I last posted to First Past the Poll my breakdown of the wild Super Tuesday results, things have somehow gotten even more turbulent. The planet is currently fighting the deadly outbreak of a coronavirus that’s killed over 350,000 people across the world; the economy has been dealt historic, damaging blows as a result of the aforementioned global pandemic; and most recently, racial tensions in the United States reached a fever pitch after yet another disturbing instance of police brutality, sparking protests and riots in major cities nationwide. These are troubling and uncertain times.
This tumult has unsurprisingly spilled over into the 2020 general election, which unceremoniously began with the unofficial mid-March coronation of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. as the Democratic Party’s next nominee for president. Consequently, there’s a lot to talk about, ranging from Trump’s handling of these problems to Biden’s potential pick for VP. Likewise, we also have new data coming out daily, with approximately 60 election polls released in May alone:
So, why haven’t I been talking about any of it?
Boring Life Updates
Well clearly based on the tweet, I have been covering politics, just not on here. In the nearly quarter-year since this blog was last updated, much has changed in my own life as well — thankfully, it’s for the good, and some of it was planned.
First, the most important development for followers of First Past the Poll: as you can also tell by the tweet linked above, I joined Inside Elections as a Contributing Analyst back in March.
I’ve been writing for the nonpartisan race rater and newsletter at a pace of about twice a month, on a variety of topics — a deep dive on state-level polls, a refresh of the Congressional retirement tracker, and an overview of April COVID-19 surveys — and I began a new series (currently three installments deep) that tracks presidential polling.
Additionally helping out with other data stuff around the site, that’s where my latest work can be found. If you don’t already, you should totally check out our website, and follow us on Twitter while you’re at it. #ShamelessPlug
My second life-rattling personal event is that I recently graduated from Western Kentucky University and will be starting an M.A. in American Government at Georgetown University this fall. I look forward to honing my current skills, learning new ones, and cultivating them all in the heart of the action in Washington, D.C.
It should go without saying that this site was probably the biggest factor behind any of those achievements. For close to two years, First Past the Poll has served as a collection of my “refined” political work — basically anything using citations and research has appeared here. Heck, instead of doing a standalone undergraduate thesis, I successfully defended the corpus of this blog — just the idea of First Past the Poll — as a project exploring my own spin on election journalism. Corny name notwithstanding, it has done a lot for me, and I’m appreciative of those who helped to develop this political passion into a possible profession.
What This Means for First Past the Poll
Now I’ve read enough of these posts to know this is supposed to be the part where I write something along the lines of, “Yet I suppose I always considered First Past the Poll a means to an end, a stepping stone of sorts, with a purpose beyond writing feature-style articles about political statistics and electoral numbers. Of course I do this because I think it’s fascinating and fun, but I wanted to make it my career too.”
All of that’s true to some degree, sure, but 1) I don’t think I bloviate that much, and 2) it shouldn’t devalue the heart and attention put into the posts themselves. First Past the Poll has simply become my undergraduate portfolio. Thus, as I transition to graduate school and beyond, this blog too will change.
Attempting to predict elections has taught me that forecasts too far into the future tend to be less accurate, so I won’t make any broad statements here. I can promise this, though: First Past the Poll is not “dead,” even if I publish to it less frequently…or not at all.
To fulfill the initial vision of collecting my political thoughts during my time at WKU, I can at least guarantee a few “new” posts. Following with the “Read My Papers from the ___ Semester!” series, I plan to upload around a half-dozen essays/papers that I wrote as assignments for Spring 2020 classes. Be on the lookout for those in the upcoming future. Hopefully, whatever I write at Georgetown will also eventually find its way here.
In short, use cases might shift, but usefulness does not. There’s a healthy back catalog of articles explaining core campaign concepts, stories debunking electoral myths, and pieces recommending how to responsibly present election data. Phrased another way, my old content is not falling out of style anytime soon.
To further futureproof, I’ve updated the site’s Resources page with revisions for 2020; if you want an idea of how I stay in the loop, this is the prime place to start yourself. My About page now contains a current biography (and picture!), as well.
All this said, I sincerely hope you’ll continue to follow my foray into the field of number-driven nonpartisan political analysis — on First Past the Poll and elsewhere.
Right now, the best places to do so are on Twitter @BradWascher, at Inside Elections, or right here on the blog. The kids would say I am Very Online, so don’t hesitate to ever reach out or contact me with questions about elections, polls, and politics.
As always, thanks for your support! 🙂