Jan 312017
 

After three years or so, there is a publication date for our Handbook of Electoral Behaviour: it will be out in mid-March (2017) and could be yours for a mere 240 quid (hey, that’s a ten per cent pre-publication discount!). Delectable as it is, it is somewhat unlikely that you would want to buy this tome for your private collection, but you might want to recommend it to your library. Speaking of delectable things, here is what is in the box:The all new, all singing, all dancing Handbook of Electoral Behaviour 1

Introduction (Kai Arzheimer, Jocelyn Evans and Michael S. Lewis-Beck)

PART I  INSTITUTIONAL APPROACHES

Institutions and Voter Choice: Who Chooses, What Do They Choose Over, and How Do They Choose (Shaun Bowler)

Party Systems and Voter Alignments (Åsa von Schoultz (née Bengtsson))

The Study of Less Important Elections (Hermann Schmitt and Eftichia Teperoglou)

Clarity of Responsibility and Vote Choice (Thiago Silva and Guy D. Whitten)

Voting in New(er) Democracies (Lenka Bustikova and Elizabeth Zechmeister)

PART II  SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES

Age and Voting (Ruth Dassonneville)

Gender and Voting (Rosie Campbell)

Social Class and Voting (Geoffrey Evans)

Religion (Martin Elff and Sigrid Roßteutscher)

Race, Ethnicity and Elections: From Recognizable Patterns to Generalized Theories (Maria Sobolewska)

Social Networks and Voter Mobilization (Marc Hooghe)

PART III  PARTISANSHIP

The Evolving Role of Partisanship (Elias Dinas)

Party Identification: Meaning and Measurement (Donald P. Green and Susanne Baltes)

Cognitive Mobilization (Todd Donovan)

PART IV  VOTER DECISION-MAKING

Strategic Voting (Thomas Gschwend and Michael F. Meffert)

Integrating Genetics into the Study of Electoral Behavior (Carisa L. Bergner and Peter K. Hatemi)

Emotions and Voting (David P. Redlawsk and Douglas R. Pierce)

Referendums (Alan Renwick)

Turnout (Hanna Wass and André Blais)

PART V  ISSUES AND ATTITUDES

Ideology and Core Values (Robert N. Lupton, Adam M. Enders, and William G. Jacoby)

Issue Ownership: An Ambiguous Concept (Wouter van der Brug)

Valence (Jane Green and Will Jennings)

Value Cleavages (Romain Lachat)

The Economic Vote: Ordinary vs.Extraordinary Times (Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Marina Costa Lobo)

The VP-Function: A Review (Mary Stegmaier, Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Beomseob Park)

PART VI  CANDIDATES AND CAMPAIGNS

Voter Evaluation of Candidates and Party Leaders (Diego Garzia)

Candidate Location and Vote Choice (Jocelyn Evans)

The Personal Vote (Thomas Zittel)

Candidate Attractiveness (Markus Klein and Ulrich Rosar)

Campaign Effects (Richard Johnston)

Economic Voting in a New Media Environment:Preliminary Evidence and Implications (Diana C. Mutz and Eunji Kim)

Campaign Spending (Zachary Albert and Raymond La Raja)

PART VII  POLLING AND FORECASTING

Polls and Votes (Robert Ford, Christopher Wlezien, Mark Pickup and Will Jennings)

Econometric Approaches to Forecasting (Éric Bélanger and David Trotter)

Wisdom of Crowds (Andreas Murr)

Political Markets (Andreas Graefe)

Social Media and Elections: A Meta-analysis of Online-based Electoral Forecasts (Andrea Ceron, Luigi Curini and Stefano M. Iacus)

PART VIII  Candidates and Campaigns

Experiments (Robert Johns)

Multi-level Modelling of Voting Behaviour (Marcel Lubbers and Take Sipma)

Cross-national Data Sources: Opportunities and Challenges (Catherine de Vries)

Psephology and Technology, or: The Rise and Rise of the Script-Kiddie (Kai Arzheimer)

Conclusion (Marianne Stewart)

If you are still reading, you will have noticed that we got away with not having devoted a chapter (exclusively) to Rational Choice

Dec 092015
 
Where candidates live matters to voters, and they show it in their voting 2

A bit dated now, but still relevant: Showcasing our research at the Democratic Audit:
285467330_3b3c4ba936_voting

That voters prefer to elect local candidates is a long-held assumption of British politics. Professor Jocelyn Evans’ research has sought to test that assumption. He found that the geographical distance between candidates’ homes and the constituency had a measurable impact on voting behaviour. In this post he shares his findings and argues that voters should have access to more information about the ‘localness’ of those seeking to represent them …

Read the full post here: Where candidates live matters to voters, and they show it in their voting

Dec 112013
 

SPD votes on the coalition agreement

It’ another slow week for German politics, what with the Mandela Memorial, near-civil war in Thailand, the standoff in Ukraine and the South Korean/Japanese Chinese skirmishes. BUT: a small-scale CDU party conference of some 180 delegates has approved unanimously of the CDU/CSU/SPD agreement (a ‘Coalition Treaty’ in German parlance, though it can not be challenged in/enforced by the Constitutional Court). Delegates at a similar CSU conference have done their bit a month ago. Much more interesting is of course the case of the SPD, which put the agreement to a referendum by their 472,000 rank-and-file members.

The all-postal ballot will end tomorrow at midnight, and we will know the result on Saturday. So far, more than 300,000 people have voted. That alone is remarkable.

What if?

Last weekend, a conference of the party’s youth organisation passed a resolution that recommends members should vote against the agreement. The party leadership was less than delighted.

No one knows exactly what the rest of the members think. It’s entirely conceivable that a majority votes against, while it is inconceivable that the current leadership (broadly defined) that negotiated the agreement could survive such an embarrassment. The most likely outcome would be elections in February, though I’m sure that Merkel and the Greens would have another series of fireside chats if push came to shove. And if there were elections, the SPD would tank.

I’m sure the SPD members will bear this twin scenario in mind when they make their choice.

Jun 142013
 

Slides (in German) for my recent talk about our geolocation and voting project at the Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences. The presentation is based on

  • Arzheimer, Kai and Jocelyn Evans. “Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England.” Political Geography 31.5 (2012): 301–310. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006
    [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF] [HTML] [DATA]

    The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants’ support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual’s support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters’ choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.

    @Article{arzheimer-evans-2012,
    author = {Arzheimer, Kai and Evans, Jocelyn},
    title = {Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England},
    number = {5},
    volume = {31},
    abstract = {The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants' support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual's support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters' choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.},
    journal = {Political Geography},
    year = 2012,
    doi = {10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006},
    pages = {301--310},
    keywords = {uk, gis},
    html = {https://www.kai-arzheimer.com/paper/geolocation-voting-candidate-voter-distance-effects-party-choice-2010-general-election-england},
    data = {http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/17940},
    url = {https://www.kai-arzheimer.com/arzheimer-evans-geolocation-vote-england.pdf}
    }

.
The full PDF for the presentation is here.

May 242013
 

The “Blue Books” have been around for more than 30 years. For each Bundestag election, there is a massive edited volume that deals with each and every aspect of this particular event.And for more than three decades, editors have urged authors and publishers to get on with their respective jobs. Inevitably, the massive tomes have always come out just in time for the next election.

In line with this great tradition, VS/Springer has published the most recent addition to the collection in early May. Our chapter looks (once more) into the differences between voters in the former Federal Republic and their eastern compatriots in the 2009 election. While these differences persist, we find that people in the West are also deviating from traditional patterns of voting behaviour. (In German)

Bundestagswahl 05 stimmzett
Foter.com / Public domain
Apr 022012
 

In first-past-the-post systems, voters should prefer local candidates for all sorts of reasons. From a rational choice perspective, you could argue that local candidates should, on average, more similar to their constituency in socio-economic terms and therefore more likely to represent their interests. A more socio-psychological-minded explanation would refer to shared ideological traits, positive stereotypes and collective identities. Or you could argue that local candidates are simply better known and have more opportunities for canvassing. Either way, even your granny knew that local is better when it comes to politics.

Only that she could never prove this assertion, while we can. Almost two years after the event, Political Geographyhas accepted our paper on the effect of (driving) distance between English mainstream candidates and their voters in the 2010 General Election. Controlling for incumbency, socio-economic distance and pre-campaign feeling towards the major parties, we demonstrate that physical distance (derived from candidates’ addresses and the centroid of their prospective voters’ neighbourhood) has a small but politically relevant effect. And yes, this is a brilliant start to this week!

Update: I have moved the preprint to a separate page. You can access the PDF, replication data etc. by clicking on the links below.

    Arzheimer, Kai and Jocelyn Evans. “Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England.” Political Geography 31.5 (2012): 301–310. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006
    [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF] [HTML] [DATA]

    The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants’ support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual’s support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters’ choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.

    @Article{arzheimer-evans-2012,
    author = {Arzheimer, Kai and Evans, Jocelyn},
    title = {Geolocation and voting: candidate-voter distance effects on party choice in the 2010 General Election in England},
    number = {5},
    volume = {31},
    abstract = {The effect of geographical distance between candidate and voter on vote likelihood in the UK is essentially untested. In systems where constituency representatives vie for local inhabitants' support in elections, candidates living closer to a voter would be expected to have a greater probability of receiving that individual's support, other things being equal. In this paper, we present a first test of this concept using constituency data (specifically, notice of poll address data) from the British General Election of 2010 and the British Election Survey, together with geographical data from Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail, to test the hypothesis that candidate distance matters in voters' choice of candidate. Using a conditional logit model, we find that the distance between voter and candidates from the three main parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) matters in English constituencies, even when controlling for strong predictors of vote-choice, such as party feeling and incumbency advantage.},
    journal = {Political Geography},
    year = 2012,
    doi = {10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.04.006},
    pages = {301--310},
    keywords = {uk, gis},
    html = {https://www.kai-arzheimer.com/paper/geolocation-voting-candidate-voter-distance-effects-party-choice-2010-general-election-england},
    data = {http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/17940},
    url = {https://www.kai-arzheimer.com/arzheimer-evans-geolocation-vote-england.pdf}
    }

Mar 092012
 

As any fan of Midsomer Murders can testify, the English countryside is a beautiful but terrifying place. But this post on the EPOP mailing list is not about mad members of the gentry, vicious vicars or fornicating farmers, but about a potential Parish Putin:

The case concerns a Parish Poll conducted in the Devon Town of Buckfastleigh
last week, but raises issues that could become important in future elections
at every single level.

The Parish Poll was called by residents of Buckfastleigh who are very
concerned about plans to cite an industrial waste processing facility in the
town.

In the run up to the poll, the local paper, the Mid-Devon Advertiser, ran an
online poll (which is obviously open to anyone regardless of
location) in which 728 (60.2%) votes were recorded in favour of the plans,
with 474 (39.2%) voting against. The online poll appeared to allow multiple
voting – I voted more than once from the same computer and we had an IT
expert look into the matter who said that it was relatively easy to do
multiple voting even where each vote supposedly should come from a unique IP
address. A simple re-boot of a router would allow this.

The actual result of the official Parish Poll was 95% against the plans on a
turnout of 49.76% (which is apparently very high for a Parish Poll).

I was part of the campaign against the plans and it is my view, as well as
that of quite a few others, that the online poll was rigged by the planning
applicant as it seems quite extraordinary that the two results could be so
different.

That raises a number of interesting questions. First, if this online poll was a random sample with n ~1200, what are the odds of being almost 60 percentage points off? Zilch. So, either the supporters were much more likely to vote in the online poll than to turn out in the actual Parish Poll, or the applicant has indeed rigged the online poll. But why would they do that? Three mechanisms spring to mind:

  • Bandwagon effects. But seriously, would you vote in favour of waste processing plant because the yeas have a 10 point lead, and you want to be with the winners? Would you believe that anyone does?
  • Tactical voting. A more credible motive in principle, but that would require more than two options on the ballot.
  • Paradox of voting. We all know that no one should vote anyway, but if you believe that the other side is going to win, your probability of abstention might go up even further. If the poll was rigged, that would seem to be the most plausible rationale behind such a plot.

Apparently, it did not work in Devon. But the more general question is: Can we trust those non-scientific polls, and what is their effect on voters? I think the answers are “No”, and “We don’t know”. But what is your take on the Devon incident?

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Jan 142012
 

I’m currently working on an analysis of the latest state election in Rhineland-Palatinate using aggregate data alone, i.e. electoral returns and structural information, which is available at the level of the state’s roughly 2300 municipalities. The state’s Green party (historically very weak) has roughly tripled their share of the vote since the last election in 2006, and I want to know were all these additional votes come from. And yes, I’m treading very careful around the very large potential ecological fallacy that lurks at the centre of my analysis, regressing Green gains on factors such as tax receipts and distance from next university town, but never claiming that the rich or the students or both turned to the Greens.

One common problem with this type of analysis is that not all municipalities are created equal. There is a surprisingly large number of flyspeck villages with only a few dozen voters on, whereas the state’s capital boasts more than 140,000 registered voters. Most places are somewhere in between. Having many small municipalities in the regression feels wrong for at least two reasons. First, small-scale changes of political preferences in tiny electorates will result in relatively large percentage changes. Second, the behaviour of a relatively large number of voters who happen to live in a small number of relatively large municipalities will be grossly underrepresented, i.e. the countryside will drive the results.

My PhD supervisor, who did a lot of this stuff in his time, used to weigh municipalities by the size of their electorates to deal with these problems. But this would lead to pretty extreme weights in my case. Moreover, while voters bring about electoral results, I really don’t want to introduce claims about individual behaviour through the back door.

My next idea was to weigh municipalities by the square root of the size their electorates. Why? In a sense, the observed behaviour is like a sample from the underlying distribution of preferences, and the reliability of this estimate is proportional to the square root of the number of people in a given community. But even taking the square root left me with weights that were quite extreme, and the concern regarding the level of analysis still applied.

Then I realised that instead of weighing by size, I could simply include the size of the electorate as an additional independent variable to correct for potential bias. But this still left me exposed to the danger of extreme outliers (think small, poor, rural communities where the number of Green voters goes up from one to four, a whopping 300 per cent increase) playing havoc with my analysis. So I began reading up on robust regression and its various implementations in Stata.Robust Regression of Aggregate Data in Stata 3

The basic idea of robust regression is that real data are more likely than not a mixture of (at least) two mechanisms: the “true model” whose coefficients we want to estimate one the one hand, and some other process(es) that contaminate the data on the other. If these contaminating data points are far away from the multivariate mean of the x-Variables (outliers) and deviate substantially from the true regression line, they will bias the estimates.

Robust regression estimators are able to deal with a high degree of contamination, i.e. they can recover the true parameters even if there are many outliers amongst the data points. The downside is that the older generation of robust estimators also have a low efficiency (the estimates are unbiased but have a much higher variance than regular OLS-estimates).

A number of newer (post-1980) estimators, however, are less affected by this problem. One particular promising approach is the MM estimator, that has been implemented in Stata ados by Veradi/Croux (MMregress) and by Ben Jann (robreg mm). Jann’s ado seems to be faster and plays nicely with his esttab/estout package, so I went with that.

The MM estimator works basically by identifying outliers and weighing them down, so it amounts to a particularly sophisticated case of weighted least squares. Using the defaults, MM claims to have 85 per cent of the efficiency of OLS while being able to deal with up to 50 per cent contamination. As you can see in the table, the MM estimates deviate somewhat from their OLS counterparts. The difference is most pronounced for the effect of tax receipts (hekst).

robreg mm has an option to store the optimal weights. I ran OLS again using these weights (column 3), thereby recovering the MM estimates and demonstrating that MM is really just weighted least squares (standard errors (which are not very relevant here) differ, because robreg uses the robust variance estimator). This is fascinating stuff, and I’m looking forward to a forthcoming book by Jann and Veradi on robust regression in Stata (to be published by Stata Press in 2012).

                     OLS              MM            WLS

greenpct2006        0.193***        0.329***        0.329***
                 (0.0349)        (0.0592)        (0.0278)

hekst               0.311***        0.634***        0.634***
                 (0.0894)         (0.124)        (0.0688)

senioren          -0.0744***       -0.100***       -0.100***
                 (0.0131)        (0.0149)       (0.00994)

kregvoters11      -0.0125        -0.00844        -0.00844
                 (0.0146)       (0.00669)       (0.00982)

kbevdichte         -0.433        -0.00750        -0.00750
                  (0.464)         (0.330)         (0.326)

uni                 1.258           0.816           0.816
                  (1.695)         (0.765)         (1.137)

lnunidist          -0.418**        -0.372**        -0.372***
                  (0.127)         (0.113)        (0.0918)

_cons               8.232***        7.078***        7.078***
                  (0.627)         (0.663)         (0.461)
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Dec 212011
 

Like a premature Christmas present, my author’s copy of “The Extreme Right in Europe” arrived before the weekend. It’s a hefty volume of almost 500 pages that comes with a equally hefty price tag of just under 80 Euros. As you can see from the table of contents (the PDF also contains the introduction and a large chunk from Gilles Ivaldi’s chapter), it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I like the idea of bringing together  contributions on Eastern and Western Europe and dealing with multiple facets of the right (parties, movements, voters, ‘culture’). While I’m particularly partial to the chapters by Ivaldi and de Lange, which are on matters close to my own research interests,  Heß-Meining’s piece on Right-Wing Esotericism stands out for the sheer weirdness of its subject: Hitler’s hideout in the Arctic and Al Gore the Vampire, you name it. So if you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas present for this XR-head stoner uncle of yours …  just kidding of course.

As an aside, it’s remarkable that this book was published in English. The volume as well as the conference on which it is based were sponsored by French and German institutions. A few years ago, that would have meant a bilingual conference and publication. Outside Luxembourg, what is the number of scholars working in the field who could have actively participated in the conference? And how much larger would have been the number of potential readers? Individually and collectively, French and German political science might still be too big to fail for the time being, but it’s good to see that we as a discipline chose relevance. Occasionally.

To celebrate this moment of pre-Christmas clarity, here’s the author’s version of my chapter

Sep 292011
 

One feels almost sorry for the Social Democratic left: They are squeezed between the more modern Greens/Libertarians on the one hand, and the Extreme Right on the other. Here’s the preprint of a chapter I’m preparing on that topic. It should be out in late 2012