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#SPA80for80: Dante Chinni

Dante Chinni

Dante Chinni, practitioner in residence with the School of Public Affairs at American University, knows that sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time.

Shortly after Chuck Todd was announced as moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chinni finalized a partnership with NBC News and Todd to provide detailed data analysis in key congressional and gubernatorial races during the 2014 midterm election cycle and beyond.

The deal was months in the making, long before Todd knew he would be hosting the longest-running television series in U.S. history.

Chinni has been covering politics and the media for more than 15 years. He directs the American Communities Project (ACP), an initiative that breaks down the 3,100 U.S. counties into 15 archetypes to study their shifting cultural, economic, and political landscapes in a time of turbulent change. As part of the project, Chinni writes stories and analyses for media partners including WNYC Radio in New York, and writes the regular Politics Counts online column for the Wall Street Journal.

“I'd been on the Daily Rundown with Todd a few times,” Chinni says, “and we wanted to figure out a way to work together. The nice thing about this deal is it let's us collaborate and shines some light on the ACP and on the School of Public Affairs.”

Chinni also serves as a fellow at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at SPA.

He is the creator of Patchwork Nation, which won a 2009 Knight Batten Award for journalistic innovation, and he is the co-author the book Our Patchwork Nation published in 2010.

Previously, Chinni worked as a reporter-researcher at Newsweek and a senior associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He has written for publications including The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, and the Washington Post Magazine.


“The School of Public Affairs has been really supportive of this initiative, giving me access to the people and resources that can really make this partnership grow.”