Some Of Our Best Work From 2019

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.

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Congress Is Throwing A Little Money At Gun Violence Research. It Might Go A Long Way.

The Dickey Amendment is dead. Or, maybe it’s more that it has eroded into a shadow of what it once was. First passed into law in 1996, the Amendment is widely credited with ending federal funding of gun violence research in the United States. But while Dickey is technically still on the books, Democrats have chipped away at its power over the last couple years — first with an official clarification that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can study gun violence, and now a bipartisan agreement to provide $25 million of actual funding to back that up.

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Here’s How We Know 2019 Was The Second-Hottest Year Ever

This summer, we asked readers to send us their climate change questions. And they did. We received many, many, many climate change questions. So many, in fact, that we’re doing several different projects around them. You’ve seen our columns on Who’s Winning Climate Change? Today, we’re diving into the mailbag for another edition of Climate Question from an Adult – a series that will explore the business, culture and chemistry behind your most pressing questions about global warming. Have a question? Send it to us!

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How To Understand Natural Disasters In A Climate Change Age

Fires, floods, polar vortexes and hurricanes — every season brings another disaster seemingly linked to climate change. But natural disasters happened before climate change, too. So how are we supposed to know which disasters are fated because of the stars, and which are fated because of 100 years of global CO2 emissions?

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You’ll Never Know Which Candidate Is Electable

In a beige reception hall in a Des Moines suburb, over paper plates piled with the remains of a Monday morning continental breakfast, Sen. Bernie Sanders urged a packed house of Iowans to manifest their dreams. Imagine an America where cancer only kills you, rather than also rifling through your wallet. Visualize a future where no American child has to pay off her grandmother’s student loans. Cynicism is high and more than a quarter of us believe the American Dream is unattainable, but Sanders’s stump speech offered hope. “Everything is impossible until it’s not,” he said. The crowd went wild.

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Does Knowing Whom Others Might Vote For Change Whom You’ll Vote For?

When a presidential race that was supposed to be won by a mainstream moderate instead ends being captured by a far-right gadfly, you better believe pollsters are gonna get some scrutiny. But when this situation took place in the first round of French elections in 2002, bumping the incumbent prime minister from the final round, it wasn’t just the failure of prediction that led to a polling protest. Instead, people were concerned that opinion polling, itself, had caused the outcome.

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What Happens To Your Mail-Order Mattress After You Return It

Earlier this year, I noticed something curious: four Craigslist ads, selling the same brand of mattress, using nearly the same text, at the same location, but illustrated with different photographs. Let’s just say it doesn’t take a crack journalistic mind to suspect something odd was happening.

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In American Politics, Everyone’s A Cynic

Everybody is cynical and few people are changing their minds. That’s the takeaway from the House’s impeachment hearings. (Well, that and Steve Castor’s unconventional taste in briefcases.) It’s the sort of national attitude that you might suspect would inspire political apathy. If you think all politicians are crooked do-nothings, you might care less what they do.

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Why Nonprofits Can’t Research Gun Violence As Well As The Feds

How many Americans are shot but not killed each year? I can’t really tell you exactly. You’d think gunshot injuries would be easy to count, but as we’ve reported in the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls its own estimates “unstable and potentially unreliable.” The range of uncertainty has gotten so large that the agency removed the most recent two years’ worth of firearm injury data from its website.

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Should Parents Be Afraid To Let Their Kids Play Football?

Football’s concussion crisis has been part of the NFL for almost two decades. But the pros aren’t the only ones reevaluating their relationship with the game. Now, studies are finding that parents of younger children are increasingly concerned about the long-term impacts of playing football.

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