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These were our top 10 most popular posts of 2018

- December 31, 2018
President Trump speaks in Fargo, N.D. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Happy new year to all! As always, TMC presents our 10 most-read posts of the year — our way of looking back at what political science most concerned you, dear readers, in 2018.

In what we can safely call a very full news year, a few issues rose to the top. You were quite interested in Russian malfeasance, in bombing and nuclear weapons, and in who supports Donald Trump, and why. Here were your favorites.

10. How badly did Russia’s interview with the Skripal poisoning suspects backfire?

In September, the British government named two Russian military officers as suspects in the March 2018 poisoning of former Russian officer and British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil. The Russian government dismissed the accusation, telling its citizenry that the West was trying to frame Russia.

Then RT interviewed the suspects. Political scientists Precious N. Chatterje-Doody and Rhys Crilley analyzed the Russian public response to RT YouTube videos about the case — and told us that the interview bombed. “Not a very convincing interview at all … I wasn’t doubting the Russian government until I saw this interview,” was one representative comment.

9. Could Trump be the president who finishes off the State of the Union address?

Politics watchers love to hate the State of the Union address. Regular TMC contributor Andrew Rudalevige used Trump’s first SOTU to entertain us with the address’s history — and give us hope that it might die at long last. Or as Rudalevige put it:

A 1964 memo to LBJ White House aide Bill Moyers (yes, that Bill Moyers) noted that “everybody wants his own pet project mentioned, and the State of the Union message tends to evolve into a laundry list. … The situation has become almost ridiculous.”

8. Despite porn stars and Playboy models, white evangelicals aren’t rejecting Trump. This is why.

Why didn’t the Stormy Daniels kerfuffle turn off churchgoers? Political scientists Andrew L. Whitehead, Joseph O. Baker and Samuel L. Perry delved into their research and explained that:

Voters’ religious tenets aren’t what is behind Trump support; rather, it’s Christian nationalism — their view of the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.

7. Why nuclear war with North Korea is less likely than you think.

During the heated war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, TMC editor Elizabeth N. Saunders and her colleague Michael C. Horowitz let many people sleep at night.

6. No, one-third of African Americans don’t support Trump. Not even close.

A Rasmussen poll got a lot of attention from right-wing media. Michael Tesler showed us the real numbers. (If you like that piece, be sure to read “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America,” which Tesler co-authored with TMC editor in chief John Sides and Lynn Vavreck.)

5. Why North Korea succeeded at getting nuclear weapons — when Iraq and Libya failed.

Many Americans were preoccupied with the North Korean nuclear threat last January. As political scientist Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer wrote:

North Korea was considered too poor, authoritarian and vulnerable to succeed with its nuclear and missile programs. And yet Pyongyang has acquired advanced nuclear weapons capabilities — and, at the end of November, tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

She explained the backstory — and the three factors that made a difference.

4. Is Trump country really better off under Trump? No. It’s falling further behind.

Anthony W. Orlando looked at Trump’s America vs. Clinton’s America — and found evidence that Trump’s voters still aren’t prospering.

3. The U.S. just bombed 3 sites in Syria. Here’s what we know about why nations choose airstrikes.

Why did Trump opt for airstrikes again in April to retaliate against the regime? Political scientists Susan Hannah Allen and Carla Martinez-Machain dug into their research to explain.

2. How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood.

Political psychologists Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio used Google Trends to find that regions of the country most afflicted by a sense of fragile masculinity were most likely to vote for Trump.

1. Putin just bragged about Russia’s nuclear weapons. Here’s the real story.

But anxiety about Russia and nuclear weapons bested curiosity about Trump supporters’ masculinity fears. Political scientist James J. Cameron broke down the realities behind the chest-beating.

Happy new year — and stay with us into 2019 for more!