The political “war on science” has come full circle: In claiming massive voter fraud in the presidential election, President Trump is effectively questioning political science.
Similar fraud charges previously have been debunked by academic studies, and the president’s claim that several million illegal immigrants voted last year — denying him a popular majority over Hillary Clinton — is discredited by a study released last month by a Dartmouth College team.
Will the study of politics, a social science, become as politicized as that of climate science and other “hard’’ sciences?
“That’s a good analogy,’’ Michael Herron, the Dartmouth government professor who co-authored the report, said this week. “We approached this as a science problem involving statistical analysis of elections. We weren’t working for anyone. We think this sort of study should be performed after every national election.’’
Writing after the election on Twitter, Trump claimed that 2 million to 3 million illegal immigrants had voted. He repeated the claim in a meeting this week with congressional leaders, this time setting the number at 3 million to 5 million. He also announced plans on Twitter for a federal investigation into “VOTER FRAUD’’ that would focus on “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal (and) … those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).”
This did not sound like good news to many teachers of political science, who labor as it is to get students to support assertions with evidence.
Trump’s example “makes my job harder,’’ said Aaron Weinschenk, who teaches undergraduate courses in politics and government at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “People talk about a ‘post-truth’ era. Not in my classroom. If you say something, you’re gonna need the evidence to back it up.’’
David Caputo, a political scientist and president emeritus of Pace University in New York, worked for several decades at the News Election Service, which collected raw election data for the major TV networks and news services. He noted that state secretaries of state, who supervise elections, do not…