For a newsroom like FiveThirtyEight’s, 2019 may as well been part of 2020. Such is the peril of covering electoral politics. But before 2020 actually arrives, we wanted to take a moment and remember some of our favorite features from the past year that the news cycle hasn’t rendered obsolete. There was a lot of good stuff! This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start.
- “Just because Republicans aren’t winning in cities doesn’t mean that no Republicans live there,” Rachael Dottle wrote earlier this year. Using historical vote data, she showed where every city’s Republican enclaves were, and which cities were the most politically segregated.
- Clare Malone went home to Cleveland’s suburbs to examine how the 2016 election laid bare political differences among white Americans. Clare found that the fissures had been lying in wait for decades.
- How do you measure a gerrymandered district? Ella Koeze and William Adler showed how math can help expose which districts have been manipulated along partisan lines.
- Black politicians on the local level live different political lives than black politicians who want to be president. In August, Perry Bacon Jr. dug into why that is.
- Activists who want to restrict access to abortion made some progress on the state level this year. Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux categorized hundreds of abortion restrictions to show why the anti-abortion movement is escalating.
- Automatic voter registration is a recent hobbyhorse of progressive activists. But is it the panacea it’s made out to be? Nathaniel Rakich looked at what happened when 2.2 million people were automatically registered to vote.
- We’re told over and over again that politicians need to appeal to centrist moderates if they hope to win nationally. But Lee Drutman’s analysis suggests that narrative isn’t true. The moderate middle is a myth.
- Clare Malone spent weeks tailing former Vice President Joe Biden to understand a contradiction at the center of his presidential campaign: black voters provide a lot of his support, but one of his biggest vulnerabilities is his record on race.
- Speaking of Biden, it can sometimes seem like it’s tough to dislodge a primary front-runner. But Geoffrey Skelley chronicled all the other front-runners who haven’t won. The list is long.
- Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Dan Cox wrote about one more way millennials are different than boomers: they’ve left religion behind, and they’re probably not coming back.
- In the very first House vote on impeachment, to simply formalize the process, Perry Bacon Jr. identified the political faultlines that would define the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal. Hint: They had to do with partisanship.
- Does it seem to you like President Trump’s job approval ratings hardly budge? Well, that’s true. But Geoffrey Skelley looked at how unusual Trump’s ratings are historically.
- The number of women in the Democratic field this cycle is unprecedented. And we don’t have any research on how sexism might affect such a race. But that doesn’t mean we know nothing about sexism’s electoral impact — Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Meredith Conroy put together a link-heavy introduction to what we know already, and how that could influence the 2020 primary.
- We try and find overlap between politics and sports wherever we can, but that doesn’t mean we’re always good at knowing which is which. Earlier this year Tony Chow quizzed us on whether color commentary happened after a game or after a Democratic primary debate.
- “Space Jam 2” is coming, and we’re hoping to be LeBron James’s casting director. We used our NBA metrics to cast the true successors to the cast of the original “Space Jam” movie.
- It’s always tough to measure how good a defender is in the NFL. But Michael Chiang figured out a clever new way: look at where opposing offenses aren’t throwing.
- How many clichés are in your average college fight song? We tried to figure out the answer.
- Chris Herring attempted to solve one of the great mysteries of the NBA: “Why are there so many bats at Spurs games?”
- Another big mystery: How do you accurately evaluate college quarterbacks for the pro game? Josh Hermsmeyer looks at how the NFL does it (poorly), and offers some alternative solutions.
- Some people watch the Super Bowl for the football, and some people watch it for the halftime show. Gus Wezerek belongs to the latter, and he used data to rank 25 years of Super Bowl halftime shows.
- How national is your college football team’s fanbase? And why is a random county in South Dakota buying so many USC tickets?
- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been on a warpath against the parts of baseball he thinks are slowing down the game. Travis Sawchik found a culprit Manfred hasn’t targeted: foul balls.
- It’s still relatively early in the 2019-20 NBA season, but the pairing of LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Los Angeles Lakers has been really good. Actually, Neil Paine found that it’s been historically great.
- We put Nate Silver in a dinosaur costume.
- Most personality quizzes on the internet are bunk. This one is backed by science.
- Conspiracy theories permeate our politics and culture. But get used to them. Maggie Koerth wrote that they can’t be stopped.
- We publish a lot of forecasts here at FiveThirtyEight. But are they any good? Jay Boice and Gus Wezerek collected virtually every forecast FiveThirtyEight has ever done to find out. The short answer: Yes, they’re pretty good. 😉
- Christie Aschwanden had simple advice for those who work out: you don’t need sports drinks to stay hydrated.