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In this note, we provide direct evidence of cheating in online assessments of political knowledge. We combine survey responses with web tracking data of a German and a US online panel to assess whether people turn to external sources for answers. We observe item-level prevalence rates of cheating that range from 0 to 12 percent depending on question type and difficulty, and find that 23 percent of respondents engage in cheating at least once across waves. In the US panel, which employed a commitment pledge, we observe cheating behavior among less than 1 percent of respondents. We find robust respondent- and item-level characteristics associated with cheating. However, item-level instances of cheating are rare events; as such, they are difficult to predict and correct for without tracking data. Even so, our analyses comparing naive and cheating-corrected measures of political knowledge provide evidence that cheating does not substantially distort inferences.
Recent scholarship on affective polarization documents partisan animosity in people's everyday lives. But does partisan dislike go so far as to deny fundamental rights? We study this question through a moral dilemma that gained notoriety during the COVID-19 pandemic: triage decisions on the allocation of intensive medical care. Using a conjoint experiment in five countries we analyze the influence of patients’ partisanship next to commonly discussed factors determining access to intensive medical care. We find that while participants’ choices are consistent with a utilitarian heuristic, revealed partisanship influences decisions across most countries. Supporters of left or right political camps are more likely to withhold support from partisan opponents. Our findings offer comparative evidence on affective polarization in non-political contexts.
Knowledge about political representatives' behavior is crucial for a deeper understanding of politics and policy-making processes. Yet resources on legislative elites are scattered, often specialized, limited in scope or not always accessible. This article introduces the Comparative Legislators Database (CLD), which joins micro-data collection efforts on open-collaboration platforms and other sources, and integrates with renowned political science datasets. The CLD includes political, sociodemographic, career, online presence, public attention, and visual information for over 45,000 contemporary and historical politicians from ten countries. The authors provide a straightforward and open-source interface to the database through an R package, offering targeted, fast and analysis-ready access in formats familiar to social scientists and standardized across time and space. The data is verified against human-coded datasets, and its use for investigating legislator prominence and turnover is illustrated. The CLD contributes to a central hub for versatile information about legislators and their behavior, supporting individual-level comparative research over long periods.
We offer a dynamic Bayesian forecasting model for multiparty elections. It combines data from published pre-election public opinion polls with information from fundamentals-based forecasting models. The model takes care of the multiparty nature of the setting and allows making statements about the probability of other quantities of interest, such as the probability of a plurality of votes for a party or the majority for certain coalitions in parliament. We present results from two ex ante forecasts of elections that took place in 2017 and are able to show that the model outperforms fundamentals-based forecasting models in terms of accuracy and the calibration of uncertainty. Provided that historical and current polling data are available, the model can be applied to any multiparty setting.
Hitler’s rise to power amidst an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated scholarly interest in campaign effects. To the surprise of many, empirical studies often found minimal effects. The predominant focus of early work was on U.S. elections, though. Nazi propaganda as the archetypal and, in many ways, most likely case for strong effects has rarely been studied. We collect extensive data about Hitler’s speeches and gauge their impact on voter support at five national elections preceding the dictatorship. We use a semi-parametric difference-in-differences approach to estimate effects in the face of potential confounding due to the deliberate scheduling of events. Our findings suggest that Hitler’s speeches, while rationally targeted, had a negligible impact on the Nazis’ electoral fortunes. Only the 1932 presidential runoff, an election preceded by an extraordinarily short, intense, and one-sided campaign, yielded positive effects. This study questions the importance of charismatic leaders for the success of populist movements.
Measures of constituency preferences are of vital importance for the study of political representation and other research areas. Yet, such measures are often difficult to obtain. Previous survey-based estimates frequently lack precision and coverage due to small samples, rely on questionable assumptions or require detailed auxiliary information about the constituencies' population characteristics. We propose an alternative Bayesian hierarchical approach that exploits minimal geographic information readily available from digitalized constituency maps. If at hand, social background data are easily integrated. To validate the method, we use national polls and district-level results from the 2009 German Bundestag election, an empirical case for which detailed structural information is missing.
Little is known about political polarization in German public opinion. This article offers an issue-based perspective and explores trends of opinion polarization in Germany. Public opinion polarization is conceptualized and measured as alignment of attitudes. Data from the German General Social Survey (1980 to 2010) comprise attitudes towards manifold issues, which are classified into several dimensions. This study estimates multilevel models that reveal general and issue- as well as dimension-specific levels and trends in attitude alignment for both the whole German population and sub-groups. It finds that public opinion polarization has decreased over the last three decades in Germany. In particular, highly educated and more politically interested people have become less polarized over time. However, polarization seems to have increased in attitudes regarding gender issues. These findings provide interesting contrasts to existing research on the American public.
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