Aug 242013
 

The State of Play, Four Weeks Before the Election

Last week’s post on Merkel’s very good chances to win a third term created a bit of a stir. This week, I’m back with nine new polls (conducted between August 6 and August 19 by six different companies), which all point into the same direction.

What the Pollster Saw

On average, polls are in the field for five days (with a standard deviation of three days), so I continue to anchor each poll to a specific week in the calendar. Along with the raw data, the graphs show estimates for the true support for each party over 32 weeks, starting from Monday, the 31st of December. Eight of the new polls cover week 31 and week 32, while one is a late addition to estimate for week 30.

majorparties-week-33

Estimated/predicted Support for Major German Parties (2013 election). Click for Larger Image.

 

Support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats is between 39 and 47 per cent. The model, which accounts for previous levels of party support and variation across pollsters, puts them at 41 per cent. Findings for the major opposition party, the Social Democrats, are less variable at 22 to 25 per cent. The model places them at the upper limit of these current polls.

Results for the Greens are even more unanimous (12-13.5 per cent). The model agrees, confirming that their support has come down a tick or two over the last weeks.

The same cannot be said for the Left, which is almost static at seven per cent (polls: 6-8.1). That is well below their 2009 result, but also well above the electoral threshold of five per cent.

Finally, for the Liberals, Merkel’s coalition partner, things have improved ever so slightly. While the polls vary from three to seven per cent, the Liberals’ true level of support is currently estimated at 5.2 per cent. More importantly, after months of continuous near-death experiences, there seems to be an upward trend.

minorparties-week-33

Estimated/predicted Support for Smaller German Parties (2013 election). Click for Larger Image.

 

What Does That Mean for September 22 and Beyond?

This is my first shot at pooling the pre-election polls, so all predictions should be taken with a very generous pinch of salt. The model is possibly misspecified and rests on an number of questionable assumptions. The most obviously problematic amongst these is that polls are, on average, unbiased over the whole January-September timeframe. But hey, this is a blog, so let’s ignore this (and all other) problems for a second and believe that the trend-lines and credible intervals for the next four weeks are indeed credible.

Once we make this leap of faith, the probability of a return to a Red-Green coalition is approximately zero. Amongst 10000 simulations of week 38/39 (the election is on a Sunday), there is not a single one that gives a parliamentary majority to this prospective coalition.

The FDP, on the other hand, makes it past the electoral threshold in 83 per cent of my simulations, and in 78 per cent, there is a parliamentary majority for the present coalition. The true probability will be higher, as some CDU supporters will vote strategically for the FDP to help them across the threshold. If we assume that this behaviour is virtually guaranteed to succeed (it would be enough if about one in 40 CDU would cast a “loan vote”), the probability of a majority for the present coalition goes up to 90 per cent.

Put differently, the probability of a Red-Red-Green coalition (SPD, Left, Greens) is between 22 per cent (no loan votes for FDP) and 10 per cent (loan vote strategy works perfectly). But even if there was a majority for the three opposition parties, a coalition (or rather a toleration arrangement with the Left) would be highly unlikely (say p=0.1), making a Grand Coalition led by the CDU the default option. That again means that the probability of any government not being headed by the present chancellor is between one and two per cent (down from four per cent last week).

What About the Smaller Parties (AfD, Pirates, etc.)

For several months, most pollsters did not publish separate results for smaller parties such as the eurosceptic AfD or the internet-centric Pirates. Some have resumed giving itemized counts for “other” parties, and it currently seems safe to assume that neither will enter parliament. If they did, the Pirates would probably take away votes from the left parties, whereas the AfD would most likely weaken the two major parties. In either case, a Grand Coalition would become more likely.

What Everyone Else Thinks

The July issue of PS has two short pieces on forecasting models for the September election. Both pick Merkel as winner. So do Bundewahltrend (average over the six most recent polls), pollytix (weighted average of 15 most recent polls), and wahlistik (a poll aggregator run for the Zeit weekly). Las weekend, politicians in both major parties began floating the idea of a Grand Coalition, but given the latest polls, four more years of centre-right government seems to be the most likely option by far.

Stay Tuned

This post comes with lots of health warnings attached. In the past, forecasts have failed, faces have turned red, majorities have collapsed well before election day. I’ll be back once I have collected the next batch of polls.

Jun 112012
 

Colleague Rainbow Murray is in Paris to do a little bit of observing. Her personal account of the count in one Parisian ward is quite intriguing. I had no idea that each candidate has to provides their own ballot paper. Not a very green thing, it would seem. Art Goldhammer puts Laurent Joffrin’s comment on Mélenchon’s failture/LePen’s success in perspective. ‘We all tend to overinterpret the results of elections’. Can’t argue with that. Meanwhile, Matt Goodwin ponders the question if Marine LePen’s ‘detoxified’ version of her father’s Front National is serving once more the blueprint for the (West) European Extreme Right, with Greece providing the counterpoint.And my own thoughts? Looking back, perhaps the most remarkable fact is how much our collective excitement has waned since the presidential election, although legislative elections really arereally important. Is this just because hundreds of multi-person races can simply not compete with the drama of the shoot-out between Sarkozy and Hollande, or just another piece of evidence of the internet’s detrimental effects on our attention spans? Continue reading »

May 112012
 
Mapping local deviations from regional voting patterns in Germany 1

A mere 2.75 years after the fact, the Definitive Volume (TM) on the German Federal Election of 2009 is almost (almost!) ready to go to the printers’. And so is our chapter on East-West differences in German voting behaviour, which is vintage before it is even out (Pirate party, anyone?). Obviously, the details are becoming more and more blurry, so going through the proofs actually made for a pleasant read.

Political Science is the magpie amongst the social sciences, which borrows heavily from other disciplines. These days, many political scientists are actually failed economists (even more failed economists are actually economists, however). I used to think of myself as a failed sociologist, but reading the proofs it dawned on me that I might actually aspire to become a failed geographer.

Mapping local deviations from regional voting patterns in Germany 2

Local deviations from regional voting patterns

On particular nice map that should have been discussed more thoroughly in the paper shows the local deviation from regional voting patterns. Yes, you read that right: I calculate an index (basically Pedersen’s) that summarises local (i.e. district level) deviations from the regional (East vs West) result and roll that into a choropleth.  This way, it is easy to see how heterogeneous the two regions really are. Most striking (in my view) is the difference between Bavaria and the other Western Länder, which is of course a result of the CSU’s still relatively strong position. The PDS/Left party’s stronghold over the eastern districts of Berlin is clearly visible, too.

Feb 182012
 
The reviewer thinks that “the piece is quite long for a research note on a regional election.” I’m afraid s/he is right, as it took me an unduly long time to complete it. But (and this is a very big but) the reviewer nonetheless recommends publication, and (even better the editor does not think that a reduction in size will be necessary.  Rejoice! So, just under one year after the fact, here is my analysis of the 2011 Land election in Rhineland-Palatinate

The 2011 election in Rhineland-Palatinate was a political earthquake: Following a string of political scandals, the SPD lost almost ten percentage points of their support, while the CDU could hardly improve on their disastrous 2006 result. The FDP is no longer represented in the state parliament. The Greens more than tripled their last result, allowing them to enter a coalition with the SPD for the first time.

Analyses at the municipal level show that the party improved most in their urban strongholds while still showing a (relatively) weak performance in rural areas. This will make it difficult to sustain the momentum of their victory. Moreover, the SPD is battered and bruised and needs to select a new leader, but veteran minister president Kurt Beck shows no inclination to step down. This does not bode well for a coalition that needs to organise the state’s fiscal consolidation and structural transformation.

 There is a PDF, too.

This manuscript as PDF

PDF version of this paper

 

 

 

Mar 022011
 

In the olden days, the world was simple. The average extreme right party was strictly socially conservative, to say the least. Abortion and homosexuality were considered sinful, mostly so because both practices deprived the fatherland of future soldiers and potential mothers of even more soldiers. So sex was supposed to be intramarital and had one purpose only: to procreate for the fatherland. Then came Pim Fortuyn and somewhat confused the message, but this was of little concern to members of the German NPD, who sometimes seem to live blissfully in a parallel universe where the 1930s never came to an end.

NPD: more miniskirts, fewer minarets

NPD campaign poster, 2011

Or so I thought until this morning. It’s election time in Rhineland-Palatinate, which means great fun, because campaigns at the state level often have their own disarming and rather amateurish charm. On my way to work, I drove past at least a dozen very conventional NPD posters showcasing the party’s “Müttergehalt” (salary for mothers) policy that is supposed to stop the “Volkstod” (genocide – they really hate foreign words). But then I nearly crashed my car laughing out loud when I spotted this little gem, campaigning, as you would have guessed, for “miniskirts instead of minarets”. Ah, the demand for more miniskirts – always at the fore of the minds of  every self-respecting, socially conservative nationalist movement. About time that someone dared to speak out.

 

The untrained, illiterate observer might of course mistakenly believe that the NPD is finally defending the unalienable right of the Aryan hooker to strut her stuff while eying a collection of strangely shaped dildos. As always, it is all in the eye of the beholder.

Jun 222009
 

Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews have published a preliminary analysis of the recent election in Iran. The paper (though it is based on official stats) suggests that the election was indeed rigged to a considerable degree. Here is the complete analysis of the Iranian Presidential Election 2009.

p.s. Just discovered that Ahmadinejad has his own blog. The world must surely be coming to an end. Then again, it has not been updated since 2007.

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Jul 122008
 

Library of Electoral Behaviour/Electoral Behavior 3

As a subdiscipline, the study of electoral behavior (or “psephology”) begins with a handful of monographs that were published in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It’s amazing to see how concepts and ideas that were developed in Downs’ “Economic Theory of Democracy” or in the “American Voter” by Campbell et al. some 50 years ago inform our work to the present day. However, the study of electoral behaviour (or electoral behavior – the publisher keep changing the title just to confuse me) did obviously not end with these holy books. From the 1960s on, the discipline was increasingly defined by a number of ground breaking articles that were published in professional journals.

This collection gave us the opportunity to bring together 66 articles which – in our humble view – define the discipline, represent important new departures, or bring together the knowledge we have on a given subject. As a friend of mine wisely remarked, at $ 950 the collection might be slightly underpriced. Then again, if you teach a course on electoral behaviour or political sociology, or if just want to get an overview of electoral studies, getting much if not most of the important stuff in one four-volume-1640-pages book is really a bargain. Maybe you should invite your librarian for a coffee. Make it a large one.

What the Library of Electoral Behaviour gives you is a full introduction to the study of electoral behaviour plus:

Socio-Political Models

  1. Lipset, S. M. and S. Rokkan (eds.) (1967) [‘Introduction’] in Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives, New York: The Free Press..

  2. Erikson, Robert, John H. Goldthorpe and Lucienne Portocarero (1979), ‘Intergenerational Class Mobility in Three Western European Societies. England, France and Sweden’, British Journal of Sociology 30: 415-441

  3. Alford, Robert R. (1962): A Suggested Index of the Association of Social Class and Voting, in: Public Opinion Quarterly 26, S. 417–425

  4. Lijphart, Arend: Religious vs. Linguistic vs. Class Voting: The “Crucial Experiment” of Comparing Belgium, Canada, South Africa, and Switzerland, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 73, No. 2. (Jun., 1979), pp. 442-458.

  5. Class Mobility and Political Preferences: Individual and Contextual Effects Nan Dirk De Graaf; Paul Nieuwbeerta; Anthony Heath The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 4. (Jan., 1995), pp. 997-1027.

  6. The Developmental Theory of the Gender Gap: Women’s and Men’s Voting Behavior in Global Perspective Ronald Inglehart; Pippa Norris ‎. (Oct., 2000), pp. 441-463.

  7. Alan Zuckerman (1975) ‘Political Cleavage: a conceptual and theoretical analysis’, British Journal of Political Science, 5: 231-248.

  8. Key, V. O. “A Theory of Critical Elections.” The Journal of Politics 17, no. 1 (1955): 3-18

  9. Belknap, G., and A. Campbell. “Political Party Identification and Attitudes toward Foreign Policy.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 15, no. 4 (1951): 601-23.

  10. Converse, P. (1966) ‘The concept of a normal vote’ in A. Campbell et al (eds.) Elections and the Political Order, New York, John Wiley.

  11. Jennings, M.K. and R. Niemi (1968) ‘The transmission of political values from parent to child’, American Political Science Review, 62: 169-84.

  12. Converse, Philip E. (1964), ‘The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics’, in: David E. Apter (ed). Ideology and Discontent, pp. 206-261, New York: Free Press

  13. Jackson, J. (1983). “The systematic beliefs of the mass public: estimating policy preferences with survey data” in Journal of Politics, vol. 45: 840-58.

  14. Markus, Gregory B., and Philip E. Converse. “A Dynamic Simultaneous Equation Model of Electoral Choice.” The American Political Science Review 73, no. 4 (1979): 1055-70.

  15. Fiorina, Morris P. “An Outline for a Model of Party Choice.” American Journal of Political Science 21, no. 3 (1977): 601-25.

  16. Bartels, Larry M. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952-1996.” American Journal of Political Science 44 (2000): 35-50.

Cognition and the Voter Calculus

  1. Hotelling, Harold (1929), ‘Stability in Competition’, The Economic Journal 39(153): 41-57.

  2. Riker, William H., and Peter C. Ordeshook. “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting.” American Political Science Review 62 (1968): 25-42.

  3. Continue reading »