More generally, Gilbert frequently interviews prominent state experts with specialized expertise—such as Franklin, a respected scholar of public opinion at UW-Madison who directed the Marquette Law School poll in 2012, and Ken Goldstein, a colleague of Franklin’s who studies campaign advertising and now directs the Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media, a service that tracks political ad spending. As a result, his coverage of polls and the campaign ad wars is unusually sophisticated and data-driven.

At a personal level, I’m curious why Gilbert has taken this approach (I don’t know him). But despite the progress in recent years, the more important question for journalism is why other reporters have not done the same. Political science certainly doesn’t have all the answers, but it can help make reporting smarter. So why is Gilbert such an outlier?


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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at and tweets @BrendanNyhan.