The good folks over at the LSE (which, apart from running one of the most vibrant Political Science blogging sites on the planet also happens to host a university) have kindly asked me to look ahead at the likely outcome of the German Federal Election in September in general and the role of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in particular. I submitted my text early in December so that it could be published after Christmas. Following the terror attack on the Christmas market in Berlin, they offered me the opportunity to amend and slightly extend the text. I politely declined, because I thought that a horrific but fairly localised event such as this will not fundamentally affect the outcome of a still relatively distant election. I have been wrong before. Here is the link to the article on the EUROPP blog:
2016 was a year of outrage. All over the globe, angry white men (well, mostly) were outraged over something (the EU, refugees, people of colour, feminists, and whatnot), and many took their outrage to the social media. One of the most outraging of them all will soon tweet from the White House. And all over my filterbubble, people are retweeting this outrageous dribble to show the world how outrageous it is, because they are, well, outraged.
Now, some of them are waking up to the fact that, for rather obvious reasons, this is not necessarily a clever idea.
In an Internet galaxy far, far away, a long time ago, before social media or even the invention of the world wide web, people on the Usenet would occasionally engage in “flamewars” – protracted, hostile exchanges of opinion with a very low discourse quality index. Does this sound vaguely familiar?
Traditionally, a flamewar would end with a final insult, followed by the addition of the opponent’s name to a “killfile” (the equivalent of blocking that person). Sending a very large binary file to the other side’s mailbox (then a deadly weapon that could bring down a whole computer system) was optional.
The wiser denizens of the Usenet, however, would spot a provocative statement that was likely to trigger a flamewar and simply ignore it. Instead of picking up the fight, they would try to warn off others who were about to get involved with a mantra that was repeated with Yoda-like patience: “Don’t feed the troll.”
Technology may have changed a bit. The nature and needs of the internet troll are remarkably constant.So: retweet responsibly.
I found this behind my desk whilst dusting.
Here is a polite suggestion: You might have used the indicative mood. It would have come across slightly more forceful and convincing. That, in turn, could have made a difference. Things would not be such a mess now. Next time around (if there were to be such a thing), you ought to bear that in mind.
The one and only Philip Schrodt has written what I think is the perfect seven-take-home-messages rant on that election and it’s likely outcomes. Skip all the self-flagellation/yes-but posts and read this instead:
On my day-pack I’ve got a little enamelled pin I bought several years back in a small shop in Juneau run by a guy who has, well, opinions. It shows a typewriter with the words “Write ha…
Then again, there is one thing that does not get enough coverage in there, and that is the whole polling/prediction disaster. So you should read this, too:
Background: Hillary Clinton was given a 65% or 80% or 90% chance of winning the electoral college. She lost. Naive view: The poll-based models and the prediction markets said Clinton would win, and she lost. The models are wrong! Slightly sophisticated view: The predictions were probabilistic. 1-in-3 events happen a third of the time. 1-in-10 …
There. Your Sunday sorted out.
The right-wing website Breitbart, one of the key allies of the Trump campaign, has told Reuters (link to the article is below) that they want to expand their network to include sites for France and Germany. Breitbart already has a site in the UK, which was an important part of the pro-Brexit network. Allegedly, they have begun hiring staff, so they must think that there is a market for their kind of journalism in these two countries. Goddess help us all.
The right-wing Breitbart News Network is expanding its U.S. operations and launching sites in Germany and France, its U.S. editor-in-chief told Reuters, as it seeks to monetize the anger and anti-immigrant sentiment unleashed by Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign.
I’m not a huge fan of predictive Social Science. People are not the weather; they are bound to react to our predictions, which may become self-defeating or self-fulfilling in the process. Either scenario is unpleasant for obvious reasons. Predictive models are often subject to herd behaviour. They rarely rely on first principles, which makes them rather less interesting in terms of understanding the underlying dynamics, and may therefore fail rather spectacularly if the underlying, often implicit assumptions fail. This, in turn, tends to leave us with egg on our collective face.
Having said that, and looking at the rather spectacular result of the US presidential election, it’s difficult not to be impressed by Helmut Norpoth’s “Primary Model”, which predicted a solid Trump victory back in March. The Primary Model relies on very little data, has a relatively long lead (time from prediction to event), and a good track record: It has correctly identified the winner ever since it was introduced in 1996. Whether that makes HN a happy man today is a different matter.
The Primary Model’s rather quaint website is here; the link above points to a more accessible contribution by Norpoth to the PS symposium on forecasting the 2016 election. Which brings us back to the collective egg/face problem.
I wrote the original post in the early hours of November 9, when it was clear that Trump had a majority in the Electoral College. Since then, it has become clear that Clinton has won the popular vote, probably by a considerable margin. Because (as a couple of people have noted on Twitter) the Primary Model aims at predicting the popular vote, even Political Science’s consolation prize is gone.
The #AfD‘s leadership is highly fragmented. Regional figures play an important role for the ideology and image of the party. The national executive has not one, but two party chairs. While Frauke Petry is the more prominent and visibly #radical of the two, co-leader Jörg Meuthen, an academic economist, has long refused to be sidelined in the struggle for power within the party.
Who will be the next US President? Some commentators have argued that voter intention polls are flawed because it is difficult to know who will actually turn out to vote. To get around this problem, Andreas Murr , Mary Stegmaier , and Michael S. Lewis-Beck use citizen forecasts, a “who do you think will win” survey question, to predict the election result.
The method is . . . unusual. Here is the full article: Using citizen forecasts we predict that with 362 electoral votes, Hillary Clinton will be the next president
BTW, Helmut Norpoth, who has an excellent track record, is (still) 80+% sure that Trump will win.
- Court battle looms over Brexit legality
- Brexit Britain: British Election Study Insights from the post-EU Referendum wave: https://t.co/sPuOXOkKYX
- British unity shaken by talk of ‘hard Brexit’
- Reality or parody? British tea, jam and biscuits will be at the heart of Britain’s Brexit trade plans
- And this: Brexit triggers 12.5% Marmite price hike
- Support for UKIP has halved after referendum
The result of yesterday’s regional election in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (aka Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the initiated or Meck-Pomm for the impatient) was not a surprise, but still a shock to many. I wrote a short article for the LSE’s EUROPP blog.
Angela Merkel’s CDU came third behind the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the German Social Democrats (SPD) in elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania on 4 September. Kai Arzheimer writes that wh…
Head over to EUROPP – The AfD’s second place in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania illustrates the challenge facing Merkel in 2017 for the full article.