Have there been any studies that provide qualitative or quantitative information about how the Trump presidency has shifted the Overtone Window in the US mainstream media? Likewise, has there been anything regarding Overton windows shift in private?

If there is no quantitative method of measuring the Overton window, is there an alternative idea that will provide something similar?

  • 2
    Comments deleted. This is not the place to discuss the political leanings of different news networks. – Philipp Apr 5 '18 at 20:18
  • If you google "Trump" and "Public Discourse" you will get some articles, but I am not aware of any serious study, largely because those take time. – rougon Apr 5 '18 at 22:44
  • 1
    Even if there would be a quantitative measure of the Overton window (which I doubt), there still is the problem that it is nearly unprovable that the Trump presidency is responsible for any shift. How would you separate causation from correlation? For example, it may well be that a shift of the Overton window made the Trump presidency possible in the first place. Or that the same dynamics that shifts the Overton window also drives the Trump presidency. – Thern Apr 6 '18 at 10:32
  • @Thern Maybe make that the answer? – axsvl77 Apr 6 '18 at 14:08

I very much doubt that such studies exist, or that they even would be able to provide an answer to the question how the Trump presidency influences the Overton window.

There are two reasons for this. First, the actual Overton window is difficult to quantify. You can ask people what they would think about certain statements, but especially when topics diverge into the "radical" or even "unthinkable" region, people do not tend to be honest because they do not dare to confess (maybe not even in front of themselves) that they are thinking unthinkable or outrageous thoughts. You also can check the coverage of certain topics by the media, but it is difficult to assert if an idea is not discussed because of being perceived as too radical or because it simply is not present (or seems illogical) in the mind of the writer. Note that by definition the Overton window is about what people do not say, and that is very problematic, if not impossible, to access.

But even if we assume that there is some sort of reliable metric to measure the Overton window, studies will only be able to see a correlation between the Overton window and the Trump presidency, but not a causation. Assume that we find a shift of the window to a certain direction during the Trump presidency, does that mean that Trump is responsible? It might be the other way round: The shift of the window might have made Trump possible in the first place, and it continues during his presidency. It also might be that there is a third reason that creates the shift as well as made Trump president. Or it may be a simple coincidence, which given the very small statistical data is also very much possible.

Note how difficult it is to answer similar questions with easy to access parameters like "unemployment rates". Did the Obama presidency reduce the unemployment rate? Or were other reasons prevalent and Obama just profited from those?

Thus even if there was a measurable correlation, it would be a far stretch to conclude that "Trump shifted the Overton window".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.