Nov 032008

The US might face unprecedented levels of turnout in tomorrow’s election, but historically, the non-voters are the biggest camp in American politics. One intriguing explanation for this well-known fact is that low turnout could be a consequence of the very high (by any standard) levels of income inequality: because voters lack experience with universalistic institutions, they are less likely to adopt norms and values that foster participation in elections. This is the gist of an article that appeared recently (by social science standards) in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations. While the thesis is interesting enough, I did not find the evidence (design, operationalisation, statistical model) particularly convincing and consequentially embarked on a major replication exercise. As it turned out, there are indeed major problems with the original analysis, including a rather problematic application of the ever popular time-series cross-sectional approach (aka Beck&Katz). Last week, my own article on the (non-)relationship between inequality and turnout has finally appeared in the BJPIR. If you don’t have access to the journal, you can still download the preprint version (“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something True?”) from my homepage. And if you in turn find this rather unconvincing, you can download the replication data for the various inequality/turnout models and do your own analysis. Enjoy.
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Jul 012008

Via Simon Jackman’s blog: Chris Jordan found an intriguing way to visualise some very large, mostly scary national statistics, such as the as the number of plastic cups used on flights in the US every six hours (one million), or the number of cell phones retired every day (426,000). Amazing and aesthetically pleasing in a most disturbing way.Technorati-Tags: , , ,

May 042008

This is hilarious: Tony Zirkle (the chap behind the lectern) is obviously a man who knows how to sink his own campaign before it has even taken off. As part of his bid for a house seat in Indiana, he recently addressed a meeting of American Neo Nazis who were commemorating Hitler’s birthday (have you spotted the neat hand-made “happy birthday” garland in the foreground?). Respectful Insolence has the full story, complete with links to Zirkle’s homepage on which he blames the great porn dragon for the publicity fallout (I kid you not).

In a strange way, the whole scene looks a bit like the set of a slightly less than funny movie. If you grew up in the 1980s, you will get the impression that you have actually seen this film: remember the “I hate Illinois Nazis” moment from the original Blues Brothers movie?

Update: Zirkle was defeated soundly in the primary.