Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Two Faces of Party Ambiguity: A Comprehensive Model of Ambiguous Party Position Perceptions

  • Dominic Nyhuis (a1) and Lukas F. Stoetzer (a2)

Abstract

Recent research on electoral behavior has suggested that policy-informed vote choices are frequently obstructed by uncertainty about party positions. Given the significance of clear and distinct party platforms for meaningful representation, several studies have investigated the conditions under which parties are perceived as ambiguous. Yet previous studies have often relied on measures of perceived positional ambiguity that are fairly remote from the concept, casting doubt on their substantive conclusions. This article introduces a statistical model to estimate a comprehensive measure of perceived ambiguity that incorporates the two principal factors: non-positions and positional inconsistency. The two-faces model employs issue perceptions in an item response framework to explicitly parametrize the perceived ambiguity of party positions. The model is applied to data from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey and subsequently associated with party characteristics that drive perceptions of party ambiguity. The results suggest that (a) there are notable differences between the proposed and competing measures, highlighting the need to be mindful of the intricacies of political information processing in research on perceptions of ambiguity and (b) involuntary ambiguity might be an underexplored explanation for unclear party perceptions.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: d.nyhuis@ipw.uni-hannover.de

References

Hide All
Adams, J (2001) Party Competition and Responsible Party Government: A Theory of Spatial Competition Based Upon Insights from Behavioral Research. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Adams, J, Ezrow, L and Somer-Topcu, Z (2011) Is anybody listening? Evidence that voters do not respond to European parties’ policy statements during elections. American Journal of Political Science 55(2), 370382.
Aldrich, JH and McKelvey, RD (1977) A method of scaling with applications to the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections. The American Political Science Review 71(1), 111130.
Alesina, AF and Holden, RT (2008) Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections. Working Paper 14143. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Andrich, D (1982) An extension of the Rasch model for ratings providing both location and dispersion parameters. Psychometrika 47(1), 105113.
Aragonès, E and Neeman, Z (2000) Strategic ambiguity in electoral competition. Journal of Theoretical Politics 12(2), 183204.
Aragonès, E and Postlewaite, A (2002) Ambiguity in election games. Review of Economic Design 7(3), 233255.
Bakker, R et al. (2015) Measuring party positions in Europe: the Chapel Hill Expert Survey trend file, 1999–2010. Party Politics 21(1), 143152.
Bartels, LM (1986) Issue voting under uncertainty: an empirical test. American Journal of Political Science 30(4), 709728.
Berinsky, AJ and Lewis, JB (2007) An estimate of risk aversion in the U.S. electorate. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2(2), 139154.
Bernauer, J and Bräuninger, T (2009) Intra-party preference heterogeneity and faction membership in the 15th German bundestag: a computational text analysis of parliamentary speeches. German Politics 18(3), 385402.
Bräuninger, T and Giger, N (2016) Strategic ambiguity of party positions in multi-party competition. Political Science Research and Methods 50(3), 122.
Campbell, JE (1983a) Ambiguity in the issue positions of presidential candidates: a causal analysis. American Journal of Political Science 27(2), 284293.
Campbell, JE (1983b) The electoral consequences of issue ambiguity: an examination of the presidential candidates’ issue positions from 1968 to 1980. Political Behavior 5(3), 277291.
Carpenter, B et al. (2017) Stan: a probabilistic programming language. Journal of Statistical Software 76(1), 132.
Castles, FG and Wildenmann, R (1986). Visions and Realities of Party Government. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Chu, CYC and Niou, EMS (2005) The strategy of ambiguity in electoral competition. Academia Economic Papers 33(3), 279302.
Clinton, J, Jackman, S and Rivers, D (2004) The statistical analysis of roll call data. American Political Science 98(2), 116.
Dellas, H and Koubi, V (1994) Smoke screen: a theoretical framework. Public Choice 78(3/4), 351358.
Downs, A (1957) An Economic Theory of Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Enelow, J and Hinich, MJ (1981) A new approach to voter uncertainty in the Downsian spatial model. American Journal of Political Science 25(3), 483493.
Enelow, JM and Hinich, MJ (1982) Ideology, issues, and the spatial theory of elections. American Political Science Review 76(3), 493501.
Fernandez-Vazquez, P (2019) The credibility of party policy rhetoric survey experimental evidence. The Journal of Politics 81(1), 309314.
Fox, J (2010) Bayesian Item Response Modeling: Theory and Applications. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
Gabel, M and Scheve, K (2007) Mixed messages: party dissent and mass opinion on European integration. European Union Politics 8(1), 3759.
Glazer, A (1990) The strategy of candidate ambiguity. American Political Science Review 84(1), 237241.
Hare, C et al. (2014) Using Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey scaling to study citizens’ ideological preferences and perceptions. American Journal of Political Science 59(3), 759775.
Hoffman, MD and Gelman, A (2014) The no-u-turn sampler: adaptively setting path lengths in Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. Journal of Machine Learning Research 15(1), 15931623.
Hooghe, L et al. (2010) Reliability and validity of the 2002 and 2006 Chapel Hill Expert Surveys on party positioning. European Journal of Political Research 49(5), 687703.
Hopmann, DN et al. (2012) Party media agenda-setting: how parties influence election news coverage. Party Politics 18(2), 173191.
Hopmann, DN, Vreese, CHd and Albæk, E (2011) Incumbency bonus in election news coverage explained: the logics of political power and the media market. Journal of Communication 61(2), 264282.
Jensen, T (2009) Projection effects and strategic ambiguity in electoral competition. Public Choice 141(1), 213232.
Jessee, SA (2009) Spatial voting in the 2004 presidential election. American Political Science Review 103(1), 5981.
Jones, DR (2003) Position taking and position avoidance in the U.S. Senate. Journal of Politics 65(3), 851863.
Kam, CJ (2009) Party Discipline and Parliamentary Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Laslier, J-F (2006) Ambiguity in electoral competition. Economics of Governance 7(2), 195210.
Lauderdale, BE (2010) Unpredictable voters in ideal point estimation. Political Analysis 18(2), 151171.
Lubbers, M, Gijsberts, M and Scheepers, P (2002) Extreme right-wing voting in Western Europe. European Journal of Political Research 41(3), 345378.
Martin, AD and Quinn, KM (2002) Dynamic ideal point estimation via Markov chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953–1999. Political Analysis 10(2), 134153.
McDermott, ML (1998) Race and gender cues in low-information elections. Political Research Quarterly 51(4), 895918.
Meyer, TM and Miller, B (2015) The niche party concept and its measurement. Party Politics 21(2), 259271.
Meyer, TM and Wagner, M (2013) Mainstream or niche? Vote-seeking incentives and the programmatic strategies of political parties. Comparative Political Studies 46(10), 12461272.
Milita, K, Ryan, JB and Simas, EN (2014) Nothing to hide, nowhere to run, or nothing to lose: candidate position-taking in congressional elections. Political Behavior 36(2), 427449.
Mudde, C (2007) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nyhuis, D and Stoetzer, L (2019) “Replication Data for: The two faces of party ambiguity: A comprehensive model of ambiguous party perceptions”, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/4SRS4X, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:xUPR5ZZz4OBbmoM+2/kE7w== [fileUNF]
Page, BI (1976) The theory of political ambiguity. American Political Science Review 70(3), 742752.
Page, BI (1978) Choices and Echoes in Presidential Elections: Rational Man and Electoral Democracy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Petrocik, JR (1996) Issue ownership in presidential elections, with a 1980 case study. American Journal of Political Science 40(3), 825850.
Poole, KT (1998) Recovering a basic space from a set of issue scales. American Journal of Political Science 42(3), 954993.
Quinn, KM (2004) Bayesian factor analysis for mixed ordinal and continuous responses. Political Analysis 12(4), 338353.
Ranney, A (1954) The Doctrine of Responsible Party Government: Its Origins and Present State. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Rozenas, A (2013) Inferring ideological ambiguity from survey data. In Schofield, N, Caballero, G and Kselman, D (eds), Advances in Political Economy: Institutions, Modelling and Empirical Analysis. Berlin: Springer, pp. 369382.
Samejima, F (1969) Estimation of latent ability using a response pattern of graded scores. Psychometrika Monographs 34, 1–97.
Seeberg, HB, Slothuus, R and Stubager, R (2017) Do voters learn? Evidence that voters respond accurately to changes in political parties’ policy positions. West European Politics 40(2), 336356.
Shepsle, KA (1972) The strategy of ambiguity: uncertainty and electoral competition. American Political Science Review 66(2), 555568.
Somer-Topcu, Z (2015) Everything to everyone: the electoral consequences of the broad-appeal strategy in Europe. American Journal of Political Science 59(4), 841854.
Stokes, DE (1963) Spatial models of party competition. American Political Science Review 57(2), 368377.
Tresch, A (2009) Politicians in the media: determinants of legislators’ presence and prominence in Swiss newspapers. International Journal of Press/Politics 14(1), 6790.
Van Der Eijk, C (2001) Measuring agreement in ordered rating scales. Quality and Quantity 35(3), 325341.
Wagner, M (2012) Defining and measuring niche parties. Party Politics 18(6), 845864.
Werts, H, Scheepers, P and Lubbers, M (2013) Euro-scepticism and radical-right voting in Europe, 2002–2008: social cleavages, socio-political attitudes and contextual characteristics determining voting for the radical right. European Union Politics 14(2), 183205.
Zaller, JR et al. (1992). The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Keywords

Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Nyhuis and Stoetzer Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown
WORD
Supplementary materials

Nyhuis and Stoetzer supplementary material
Appendix I

 Word (51 KB)
51 KB

The Two Faces of Party Ambiguity: A Comprehensive Model of Ambiguous Party Position Perceptions

  • Dominic Nyhuis (a1) and Lukas F. Stoetzer (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.