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The most popular Monkey Cage posts in 2014

- December 31, 2014

2014 was Monkey Cage’s first full calendar year at The Washington Post, and we’re grateful to our readers and contributors for supporting our efforts.
As you’d expect, the Monkey Cage in 2014 had a number of posts on the U.S. midterm elections and about recently published research in political science. But we also featured posts on emerging events, like the crisis in Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak, events in Ferguson, and the popular uprising in Burkina Faso. We continued (from the blog’s earlier iteration) our tradition of having a series of posts on the World Cup, and started new initiatives like Election Lab and our summer reading series (on African politics as well as on political science on the Middle East). But what was most popular among Monkey Cage readers?
Here are the Monkey Cage’s most read posts in 2014:
10. Who are the Crimean Tatars, and why are they important?
Guest contributor Oxana Shevel wrote in early March on the Crimean Tatars, a Muslim group that was deported en masse from Crimea by Stalin in 1944 and that for decades has waged a peaceful struggle for the right to return. Tatars made up more than 10 percent of the Crimean population. Like many of our posts on the events in Ukraine, Shevel’s post provided context for the crisis.
election lab
9. New Election Lab forecast suggests 86 percent chance that GOP wins Senate
This mid-July post by John Sides discussed an update of Election Lab, the Monkey Cage’s midterm elections forecast. The updated forecast suggested the GOP had a very solid chance of taking back the Senate. And lo and behold, they did.
Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Jacob Zuma, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff8. What the new bank of BRICS is all about
Guest contributors Raj M. Desai and James Vreeland wrote an explainer post on the New Development Bank, an initiative agreed upon in July at a summit meeting by the heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the so-called BRICS countries).
Facebook splash page.
7. The case that might cripple Facebook
Henry Farrell wrote about the implications of a preliminary judgment in an Irish court in June on a case by a European privacy activist against Facebook. Farrell’s post gives insight into the European Court of Justice, to which key questions in the case were referred by the Irish judge.
geldof6. They know it’s Christmas
Laura Seay gives us four reasons why we shouldn’t buy the single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The Band-Aid charity single was re-released in 2014 to raise money for the Ebola crisis in West Africa, but Seay cast light on the song’s demeaning lyrics and the lack of transparency about how money raised from the single would be spent.
ferguson map
5. Is segregation the problem in Ferguson?
Guest contributor Jonathan Rodden used census data in this August post to dispute the popular narrative of residential segregation as the root problem in Ferguson, Mo., a city in the St. Louis metropolitan area in which protests erupted after an unarmed black teen was shot by a white police officer.
Map shows relative distance from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak to major cities on and off the continent.
4. It’s Columbus day. Let’s talk about geography (and Ebola).
On Columbus Day, Laura Seay and I took the opportunity to write about overreactions in the height of “Ebolasteria” in the United States, providing a quick geography lesson to highlight the enormity of the African continent and the distance from countries heavily stricken with Ebola in West Africa to other African countries, particularly South Africa.
Par79500593. The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place
In a similar vein, in August, Laura Seay and I wrote about the long history of media portrayals of Africa as a place to be feared in our takedown of a Newsweek cover story suggesting “bushmeat” smuggled by African migrants threatens to start an Ebola epidemic in the U.S. Our post highlights research from earlier epidemics (e.g., AIDS and SARS) to show how “othering” can negatively impact responses to public health problems.
vote2. Could non-citizens decide the November election?
Perhaps our most controversial post this year was a guest post by Jesse Richman and David Earnest describing their forthcoming paper, which raised questions about whether non-citizens’ votes could impact the midterm election. The post sparked a debate on the Monkey Cage, with critical responses from a number of political scientists, and then a response to the responses by Richman and Earnest.
Where’s Ukraine?
1. The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want the U.S. to intervene
A guest post by Kyle DroppJoshua D. Kertzer, and Thomas Zeitzoff in April was our most popular post. Their analysis of survey data on whether the United States should intervene in Ukraine featured a map with dots depicting where survey respondents situated Ukraine; the dots are colored based on how far removed they are from Ukraine, with the most accurate responses in red and the least accurate ones in blue. The post’s popularity is due in no small part to the Monkey Cage’s only ever Colbert bump. In case you missed it, Dropp and colleagues wrote a follow-up a couple of weeks later, arguing why it matters whether Americans can find Ukraine on the map, and including more detail on their study’s methods.

A self-portrait by a Celebes crested macaque. This photograph, as well as another in the series, was at the center of debate over the copyright status of images created by animals in mid-2014.

A self-portrait by a macaque was at the center of debate over the copyright status of images created by animals in mid-2014. (The monkey picked up photographer David Slater’s camera and photographed herself with it.)

In addition to our list of Top 10 posts, Election Lab deserves an “honorable mention.” Election Lab featured forecasts of midterm House and Senate races, based on a forecasting model developed by Ben Highton, Eric McGhee, and John Sides. The Election Lab Web site was itself designed and built by a team at The Washington Post that included Kennedy Elliott, Matt Nelson, and Peter Pezon. If we were to include it in our Top 10 list in 2014, it would only fall second to our most-viewed post.
We expect to continue engaging our readers in 2015, so come back soon. And happy new year from all of us at the Monkey Cage!