Lynn Vavreck & Chris Tausanovitch - "The Bitter End"

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:15pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Lynn Vavreck & Chris Tausanovitch

Lynn Vavreck and Chris Tausanovitch will discuss The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy.

Presented in partnership with the Center for Effective Government and Chicago Center on Democracy

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op. At this time, masks are required for in-store events.


About the book: The year 2020 was a tumultuous time in American politics. It brought a global pandemic, protests for racial justice, and a razor-thin presidential election outcome. It culminated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol that attempted to deny Joe Biden’s victory. The Bitter End explores the long-term trends and short-term shocks that shaped this dramatic year and what these changes could mean for the future.

John Sides, Chris Tausanovitch, and Lynn Vavreck demonstrate that Trump’s presidency intensified the partisan politics of the previous decades and the identity politics of the 2016 election. Presidential elections have become calcified, with less chance of big swings in either party’s favor. Republicans remained loyal to Trump and kept the election close, despite Trump’s many scandals, a recession, and the pandemic. But in a narrowly divided electorate even small changes can have big consequences. The pandemic was a case in point: when Trump pushed to reopen the country even as infections mounted, support for Biden increased. The authors explain that, paradoxically, even as Biden’s win came at a time of heightened party loyalty, there remained room for shifts that shaped the election’s outcome. Ultimately, the events of 2020 showed that instead of the country coming together to face national challenges—the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, and the Capitol riot—these challenges only reinforced divisions.

Expertly chronicling the tensions of an election that came to an explosive finish, The Bitter End presents a detailed account of a year of crises and the dangerous direction in which the country is headed.

About Lynn Vavreck: 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 Campaign and 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 Chris Tausanovitch: Chris Tausanovitch is an associate professor of political science at the UCLA Department of Political Science. He is the author (with John Sides and Lynn Vavreck) of The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy. He is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellowship and a former staffer on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He is the principal investigator (with Lynn Vavreck) of Nationscape, a survey of over 500,000 people conducted during the 2020 election cycle, and principal investigator (with Christopher Warshaw) of The American Ideology Project, an effort to characterize the political liberalism/conservatism of every state, congressional district, city, state legislative district, and county in the United States. His work on democracy and representation has been published in The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis, among other outlets. He has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and coverage of his work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist and elsewhere.

About John Sides: John Sides is Professor of Political Science and William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair at Vanderbilt University. He studies political behavior in American and comparative politics. He is an author of Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and The Battle for the Meaning of America, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Election and Campaigns and Election: Rules, Reality, Strategy, Choice.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-Op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637