2020 Election research and resources

Shorenstein Center Election Research

November 3, 2020

If you’re a journalist covering the 2020 election results, or anyone looking for more research-based context on the election-related landscape of media and information, the Shorenstein Center’s researchers and faculty have pulled together this list of recent reports, articles, and explainers.

Resources and Research Collections

Election Beat 2020: Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press Thomas E. Patterson provides research-based explanation of different factors at play in the 2020 election in this ongoing series for Journalist’s Resource.

The Media Manipulation Casebook: The Technology and Social Change Project’s new research hub includes case studies on media manipulation and disinformation campaigns that have targeted politicians, political parties, or voters and elections. It is a valuable resource for understanding how disinformation spreads, its impacts, and how it can be mitigated in the future.

The COVID States Polling Project: This multi-university collaboration is providing some of the most extensive polling research on Americans’ attitudes about the COVID-19 pandemic, the election, and governmental leadership during the crisis. Their latest reports focus on partisan differences in vote by mail, public opinion on the pandemic, and the biggest issues facing the country leading up to the 2020 election. The research team includes Professor Matthew Baum of the Shorenstein Center and Harvard Kennedy School.

Journalist’s Resource’s Election Research Roundups: The team at Journalist’s Resource has been summarizing and explaining academic research relevant to the 2020 election, including studies on voting by mail and voter intimidation.


Polarization and the Pandemic: TaSC Senior Researcher Robert Faris, along with Yochai Benkler and a team from Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, published two reports on american political discourse during the primary and general elections. They, along with other recent articles on COVID misinformation in Black communities online and Zoombombing, can be found on the TaSC Project’s Research page.

“I Spoke to a Scholar of Conspiracy Theories and I’m Scared for Us”: Farhad Manjoo profiled Dr. Joan Donovan and the Technology and Social Change project’s work. It’s a great overview, especially of the election-related research they’ve done into how online subcultures manifest in the offline world.

Democracy & Dragons: a research-based comic about the obstacles to voting, put together by the TaSC team with additional voter education resources from Mediawise.

The Misinformation Review’s Special Issue on Disinformation in the Elections: the first peer reviewed article in the Misinformation Review’s special election-related series looks at warning labels added to political misinformation posts by social media companies. It was written by scholars from The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.


Challenges Facing the Media on November 3rd and Beyond: Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson gave this year’s Theodore H. White lecture, in which he called on journalists to report carefully and wisely on the election results, and to maintain a commitment to truth above all.

Election 2020: Behind the Decision Desk: leading journalists Brian Carovillano and Chuck Todd talked with Center Director Nancy Gibbs about the challenges of covering this year’s election results.