As we end 2021, a year that was marginally less challenging than 2020, TMC continues its annual tradition of announcing our 10 most popular posts of the year. Readers, you were riveted by information about Jan. 6 and its aftermath, by Donald Trump and Republicans, and by racial inequities. Keep reading this year!
10. Which Republicans think the election was stolen? Those who hate Democrats and don’t mind white nationalists.
None of us can forget that the United States started the year with an unprecedented invasion of the Capitol. It’s not surprising that many of you were interested when Jan Zilinsky, Jonathan Nagler and TMC editor Joshua Tucker analyzed a survey revealing who agreed with former president Donald Trump’s false claims that he actually won the election. The answer wasn’t very surprising: the same Republicans who form Trump’s most dedicated constituency.
9. A prosecutor charged the Michigan shooter’s parents. That’s likely to be used against Black parents soon.
After a November school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, a prosecutor charged the teenage shooter’s parents with involuntary manslaughter for buying their underage son a handgun and failing to secure it. Evan Bernick warned that such an expansion of criminal law was likely to be “used to target Black Americans.” His analysis detailing how such charges “could easily lead to still more racially disparate prosecutions” captured your attention.
Soon after the January insurrection, Georgia elected two Democrats to the Senate for the first time in decades, giving Democrats the slimmest of Senate majorities. Research by Neil Chaturvedi and Chris Haynes suggested that the two Republicans lost, in part, because they aligned themselves too closely with the former president.
For the second year in a row, you were very interested in Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman’s evidence that — contrary to charges from right-wing media and political figures and in contrast to the Jan. 6 riot — the Black Lives Matter protests prompted by George Floyd’s murder were overwhelmingly peaceful. (One of our other posts noted that the BLM protests were in fact more peaceful than those of the 1960s civil rights movement.)
6. Behind the Gaetz scandal, there’s a bigger issue: Most states have loopholes that let men exploit teenage girls
Given all the extraordinary things that happened this year, you may have forgotten that in April, news surfaced that the Justice Department was investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) for his alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, including paying her to travel with him across state lines. Amber Lusvardi pointed out that in most states, adult men charged with statutory rape can avoid such charges by marrying their victims — despite public health evidence of lifelong deleterious effects on the girls’ physical and mental health.
After the January riot, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called on Trump to resign, saying, “I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.” She could leave, Lee Drutman explained, because Alaskan elections use ranked-choice voting — making it possible for her to win from outside either of the two major parties.
4. Trump didn’t bring White working-class voters to the Republican Party. The data suggests he kept them away.
Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu again debunked the myth that Trump motivated White working-class men and women to get to the polls. Rather, they found, in 2020, fewer White “working-class” Americans (defined as voting-age adults without a college degree whose incomes are in the bottom half of U.S. households) voted for Trump than had voted for the Republican candidate for decades.
Everyone wanted to know the answer. According to Michael Bang Petersen and Alexander Bor’s survey of more than 400,000 people in Denmark, the answers included the fact that Danes trust their government, the government trusts its citizens, and Danish parties worked together and in concert with the science.
In March, news media and policymakers worried a great deal about a “migrant surge.” Tom K. Wong, Gabriel De Roche and Jesus Rojas Venzor’s counterintuitive analysis got a great deal of attention, finding that the numbers were up in part because migrants prefer to travel in the spring and in part because of pent-up demand from Trump’s border closure during the pandemic.
1. No, Trump can’t pardon himself or other insurrectionists. Impeachment would strip him of that power.
But it was worries over Trump’s response to Jan. 6 that took the top spot: Would he pardon himself and others involved? Corey Brettschneider and Jeffrey K. Tulis gave us the answer: Nope, once the House impeached him, he couldn’t. But prosecution doesn’t appear to be in the cards anyway, at least in 2021.
Here’s to a better 2022! Whatever comes, TMC will be here to explain it all to you.