For people of a certain disposition, there are only two kinds of respondents: those who vote for the far right (recode to 1) and everyone else (recode to 0). Which is why, looking at the fresh (round 10, version 1.2) European Social Survey data from Finnland, I tried to recode those with a value of 4 (Perussuomalaiset (yes, I looked that one up, then copy/pasted it to make sure) or Finns Party, formerly known as True Finns) to 1.
Now picture my shocked face when this gave me precisely zero far-right Finns. Was this political correctness gone mad? The Perussuomalaiset won 17.5 per cent of the vote in 2019, making them the second strongest party in parliament. Even if there was serious underreporting, it is impossible that they disappear completely from a sample the size of the Finnish ESS. However, there is a group of people in the data, roughly equivalent to the size of the Finns Party’s electorate, who claim to have voted for the Citizens’ Party – an organisation that failed to win a single seat in 2019.
You see where this is heading. The ESS is a marvel, and its data quality remains something to behold. Nonetheless, mistakes may happen even here. The good people at the ESS data archive have been notified, and they agree that this looks somewhat odd. Together with the team in Finnland, they will find out what happened. Unless there really was a freakish, supermassive sampling error, the coding of the variables will be corrected eventually. All will be well again.
And this, boys and girls, is why we have versioning and hashes.