Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

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 […]

Regularized Prediction and Poststratification (the generalization of Mister P)

This came up in comments recently so I thought I’d clarify the point. Mister P is MRP, multilevel regression and poststratification. The idea goes like this: 1. You want to adjust for differences between sample and population. Let y be your outcome of interest and X be your demographic and geographic variables you’d like to […]

No, there is no epidemic of loneliness. (Or, Dog Bites Man: David Brooks runs another column based on fake stats)

[adorable image] Remember David Brooks? The NYT columnist, NPR darling, and former reporter who couldn’t correctly report the price of a meal at Red Lobster? The guy who got it wrong about where billionaires come from and who thought it was fun to use one of his columns to make fun of a urologist (ha […]

Does “status threat” explain the 2016 presidential vote?

Steve Morgan writes: The April 2018 article of Diana Mutz, Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and contradicts prior sociological research on the 2016 election. Mutz’s article received widespread media coverage because of the strength of its primary conclusion, declaimed […]

A political reporter asks some questions about polling

John Kruzel from PolitiFact writes in with some questions: Readers have asked us to look into Trump’s claim that his support among African Americans doubled as a result of praise from rapper Kanye West. (Trump: “Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 […]

We Count! The 2020 Census

Like many readers of this blog, I’m a statistician who works with Census Bureau data to answer policy questions. So I’ve been following the controversy surrounding the added citizenship question. Andy thought I should write an article for a wider audience, so I published a short piece in The Indypendent. But much more discussion could […]

A coding problem in the classic study, Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion

Gaurav Sood writes: In your 2015 piece, you mention: “In my research I’ve been strongly committed, in many different ways, to the model in which voter preferences and attitudes should be taken seriously.” One of the reasons people in political sciene think voters are confused is because of data presented in a book by Zaller—Nature […]