The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Election and the Challenge to Democracy


Friday, May 6, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 200N, Room 226, Cambridge, MA — Registration Required

For many people, everything in Washington seems stuck: Democrats and Republicans disagree on all fronts, few in Washington want to cooperate with the other side, election results are closer than ever, outcomes turn on a coin flip, and each side thinks its candidate won. How did we get here — and can minds be changed?

This talk highlights data from The Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project —a 500,000-interview election study — to explore what happened in the 2020 presidential election and what it portends for the future of American politics. The talk will focus on results from a series of conjoint experiments fielded over 82 weeks of the study to assess the importance of more than 50 policies, voter decision making, and what these results suggest about current dimensions of conflict in America.

Join us for the final American Politics Speaker Series seminar of the 2021-2022 academic year with Professor Lynn Vavreck of The University of California, Los Angeles.

This event is at capacity. Registration is now closed. 

The Ash Center encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in its events. Should you wish to enquire about an accommodation, please contact our events team at prior to the event. 

About the Speaker

Lynn Vavreck is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA, a contributor to The Upshot at The New York Times, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Andrew F. Carnegie Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the author of six books, including The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Election & the Challenge to American Democracy. Her 2016 book, Identity Crisis, was named the “most ominous” book of 2018 by the Washington Post Book Review, and Nate Silver dubbed her 2012 election book the “definitive account” of that election. In 2019, she developed Nationscape, a 500,000 interview election survey. She currently runs the UCLA + CDC Covid-19 Health and Politics Project, a collaboration between medical doctors and social scientists at UCLA and researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. At UCLA she teaches courses on campaigns, elections, public opinion, and the 1960s. Professor Vavreck holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Rochester and held previous appointments at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and The White House. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she remains a loyal Browns fan and is a “known equestrian” – to draw on a phrase from the 2012 presidential campaign.

About the Series

The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) aims to bring together scholars who are doing research on important questions related to American democracy. Hosted jointly with the Center for American Political Studies and chaired by Professors Maya Sen, Benjamin Schneer, and Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, each session will highlight a scholar whose research is at the forefront of the study of American politics.

Event Details 

Due to space restrictions, registration is required - please click the link above to register. The Ash Center follows all Harvard University COVID-19 protocols. Effective Monday, March 14, masks will no longer be required at Harvard Kennedy School events, but anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel free to do so.