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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Discussion of the value of a mathematical model for the dissemination of propaganda

A couple people pointed me to this article, “How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policy Makers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks,” by James Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor, and Justin Bruner, also featured in this news article. Their paper begins: In their recent book Merchants of Doubt [New York:Bloomsbury 2010], Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe […]

What’s gonna happen in the 2018 midterm elections?

Following up on yesterday’s post on party balancing, here’s a new article from Joe Bafumi, Bob Erikson, and Chris Wlezien giving their predictions for November: We forecast party control of the US House of Representatives after the 2018 midterm election. First, we model the expected national vote relying on available generic Congressional polls and the […]

What is “party balancing” and how does it explain midterm elections?

As is well known, presidential election outcomes are somewhat predictable based on economic performance. Votes for the U.S. Congress, are to a large part determined by party balancing. Right now, the Republicans control the executive branch, both houses of congress, and the judiciary, so it makes sense that voters are going to swing toward the […]

“The most important aspect of a statistical analysis is not what you do with the data, it’s what data you use” (survey adjustment edition)

Dean Eckles pointed me to this recent report by Andrew Mercer, Arnold Lau, and Courtney Kennedy of the Pew Research Center, titled, “For Weighting Online Opt-In Samples, What Matters Most? The right variables make a big difference for accuracy. Complex statistical methods, not so much.” I like most of what they write, but I think […]

The replication crisis and the political process

Jackson Monroe writes: I thought you might be interested in an article [by Dan McLaughlin] in NRO that discusses the replication crisis as part of a broadside against all public health research and social science. It seemed as though the author might be twisting the nature of the replication crisis toward his partisan ends, but […]

If you have a measure, it will be gamed (politics edition).

They sometimes call it Campbell’s Law: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not exactly known for drumming up grassroots enthusiasm and small donor contributions, so it was quite a surprise on Monday when his reelection campaign reported that more than half of his campaign contributors this year gave $250 or less. But wait—a closer examination […]

Mister P wins again

Chad Kiewiet De Jonge, Gary Langer, and Sofi Sinozich write: This paper presents state-level estimates of the 2016 presidential election using data from the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll and multilevel regression with poststratification (MRP). While previous implementations of MRP for election forecasting have relied on data from prior elections to establish poststratification targets for […]

The persistence of bad reporting and the reluctance of people to criticize it

Mark Palko pointed to a bit of puff-piece journalism on the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk that was so extreme that it read as a possible parody, and I wrote, “it could just be as simple as that [author Neil] Strauss decided that a pure puff piece would give him access to write a future Musk […]

He wants to model a proportion given some predictors that sum to 1

Joël Gombin writes: I’m wondering what your take would be on the following problem. I’d like to model a proportion (e.g., the share of the vote for a given party at some territorial level) in function of some compositional data (e.g., the sociodemographic makeup of the voting population), and this, in a multilevel fashion (allowing […]

PNAS forgets basic principles of game theory, thus dooming thousands of Bothans to the fate of Alderaan

Under the subject line, “I needed this information to make a go/no-go decision on my new Death Star,” Kevin Lewis points to this press release from a prestigious journal: Because versions of the below articles were previously posted online, PNAS is publishing the articles without embargo: Potential atmospheres around TRAPPIST-1 planets Simulations of stellar winds […]

About that claim in the NYT that the immigration issue helped Hillary Clinton? The numbers don’t seem to add up.

Today I noticed an op-ed by two political scientists, Howard Lavine and Wendy Rahm, entitled, “What if Trump’s Nativism Actually Hurts Him?”: Contrary to received wisdom, however, the immigration issue did not play to Mr. Trump’s advantage nearly as much as commonly believed. According to our analysis of national survey data from the American National […]

Flaws in stupid horrible algorithm revealed because it made numerical predictions

Kaiser Fung points to this news article by David Jackson and Gary Marx: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is ending a high-profile program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death after the agency’s top official called the technology unreliable. . . . Two Florida […]

Does “status threat” explain the 2016 presidential vote? Diana Mutz replies to criticism.

A couple months ago we reported on an article by sociologist Steve Morgan, criticizing a published paper by political scientist Diana Mutz. Mutz’s original article was called, “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote,” and Morgan’s reply is called, “Status Threat, Material Interests, and the 2016 Presidential Vote” (it originally had the […]

Can somebody please untangle this one for us? Are centrists more, or less, supportive of democracy, compared to political extremists?

OK, this is a nice juicy problem for a political science student . . . Act 1: “Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists” David Adler writes in the New York Times: My research suggests that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its […]

Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, and the FDA

I just read this horrifying magazine article by Patrick Radden Keefe: The Family That Built an Empire of Pain: The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts. You really have to read the whole thing, because it’s just one story after another of bad behavior, people getting rich […]

Average predictive comparisons and the All Else Equal fallacy

Annie Wang writes: I’m a law student (and longtime reader of the blog), and I’m writing to flag a variant of the “All Else Equal” fallacy in ProPublica’s article on the COMPAS Risk Recidivism Algorithm. The article analyzes how statistical risk assessments, which are used in sentencing and bail hearings, are racially biased. (Although this […]

Against Screening

Matthew Simonson writes: I have a question that may be of interest to your readers (and even if not, I’d love to hear your response). I’ve been analyzing a dataset of over 100 Middle Eastern political groups (MAROB) to see how these groups react to government repression. Observations are at the group-year level and include […]

Some experiments are just too noisy to tell us much of anything at all: Political science edition

Sointu Leikas pointed us to this published research article, “Exposure to inequality affects support for redistribution.” Leikas writes that “it seems to be a really apt example of “researcher degrees of freedom.’” Here’s the abstract of the paper: As the world’s population grows more urban, encounters between members of different socioeconomic groups occur with greater […]

Tali Sharot responds to my comments on a recent op-ed

Yesterday I posted some comments on an op-ed by by Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein. Sharot sent the following response: I wanted to correct a few inaccuracies, which two of your commenters were quick to catch (Jeff and Dale). It seems you have 3 objections 1. “Participants did not learn about others’ opinions. There were […]

Click here to find out how these 2 top researchers hyped their work in a NYT op-ed!

Gur Huberman pointed me to this NYT op-ed entitled “Would You Go to a Republican Doctor?”, written by two professors describing their own research, that begins as follows: Suppose you need to see a dermatologist. Your friend recommends a doctor, explaining that “she trained at the best hospital in the country and is regarded as […]