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Experiment on election prediction markets August 5, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Methods in political science, Political behavior , comments closed

I’ve recently become involved (as a participant) in an interesting experiment performed by PhD student Sveinung Arnesen at the University of Bergen in which we are asked to predict the election result through a market model, buying and selling fictive “shares” in the outcome based on our own evaluations. This is based on prior experiments like Iowa Electronic Markets experiments by the University of Iowa in connection with American Presidential Elections, and the work of Robin Hanson.

Participants have been recruited through the political party organizations (at least I was), and appear to only have the option of buying or selling “stock” in our own party and/or government coalition. I assume part of the reason why we are restricted to our own party is the need for keeping the results secret to avoid incentives for strategic attempts at driving up the predicted value.


Racism paving the way to government? March 1, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political behavior , comments closed

The so called “long campaign” before the Norwegian parliamentary election is well under way, and once again it appears that immigration will be a central topic. In the aftermath of a controversy over whether or not to allow islamic headdress (hijab) with Norwegian police uniforms, the populist right-wing party Fremskrittspartiet has started campaigning about the so called secret “Islamization” of Norwegian society. If they succeed in keeping this a hot topic throughout the campaign, previous experience shows they might gain ¬†much in terms of votes. (more…)

Fishkin vs. Hibbing – do people really want to decide? December 4, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : My master thesis, Political behavior, Political Theory , comments closed

The following is part of the ongoing research for my master (graduate) thesis.

“Society is like a ship, and everyone must be prepared to take the helm.”
(Henrik Ibsen, An enemy of the people,my translation.)

Those of us who hold deliberation (in any form) to be an important prerequisite for informed decision making, would also be interested in the topic of how deliberative functions in society can be improved.

James Fishkin has been one of the most quoted political scientists concerned with the topic of deliberation. He’s a normative scientist, concerned with the benefits that can be reaped from encouraging more democratic debate throughout the population. He has proposed new democratic institutions, such as deliberative opinion polls, or more grandly the thought of a universal “Deliberation Day” (Ackerman & Fishkin 2003). But both of these rest on one very important assumption, that¬† “[…]most citizens would be glad of the opportunity to play a serious role in important historical events” (Fishkin 1991:9). And this is an assumption Fishkin seems to take lightly. But is it realistic? (more…)

Who votes for Fremskrittspartiet? October 27, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political behavior , comments closed

Norwegian media today references a survey conducted by Norstat for Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK) that shows that voters for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress Party) are more diverse than voters of other Norwegian parties. This corresponds quite well with a paper I wrote for a class in advanced statistics, analyzing the FrP voter based on data from the European Social Survey (ESS).

I analyzed the FrP voters according to the so-called “FrP code” presented by Norwegian Author Magnus Marsdal in the influential book FrP-koden. He claims that the success of FrP can be explained by the tension between a left-oriented cultural elite and a group of disgruntled voters identifying themselves with working class values. These are perceived to have little education and a low income, to be xenophobic and sceptical to the government and people in power. Marsdal employs mostly univariate analysis and anecdotal evidence to support these claims. I performed a regression analysis, testing these and a few other hypotheses, concluding that both low education, low age, scepticism to government and scepticism to immigration seems to increase probability of voting FrP. However, the tests of statistical reliability indicate that there are groups of voters that are very poorly predicted by these indicators, appraently voting FrP for some other, unexplained reasons. (more…)

Picking apart a quantitative analysis October 3, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Methods in political science, Political behavior , comments closed

Kai Arzheimer posted on his blog a not yet published paper he wrote along with Elizabeth Carter of Keele University. The paper picks apart another paper on effects that contribute and don’t contribute to the electoral support of Le Pen’s Front Nationale in France, especially the volume of immigration.

My interest in the paper is not so much the substantial content as the nice reminder it was to me as an aspiring political scientist to still keep a critical eye towards papers that at first eyesight appear to have a thorough empirical basis. I don’t think I’d have noticed the flaws these two scientists did.

The paper is well worth a read for anyone interested in quantitative methods.

Read Kai Arzheimer’s post and both papers here.

The awesome power of Oprah August 5, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election , comments closed

The Monkey Cage blogBarack and Oprah

brought my attention to an interesting and slightly disturbing paper by Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore of Maryland University. They have analyzed the effect Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama has had on his campaign. And it appears Mrs. Winfrey really deserves her places on Forbes’ lists of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Firstly, their research method is quite ingenious. Among other things they’ve looked at the sales of books recommended in Oprah’s bookclub to measure the level of influence she holds over consumer attitudes in different areas. This is interesting enough on its own when they report that the sale of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina increased from nearly 12,000 copies before her endorsement to 650,000 copies afterwards!

The authors, both economists, present a formal (aka. mathematical) model for calculating the effect of the endorsement based on models about the effect of endorsements by interest groups.

Comparing this measure and others with election results from the primaries gives a good indication about where and how much Oprah’s endorsement was worth for Obama. And quite disturbingly they estimate that it gained him between 400,000 and 1,6 million votes(!).

Furthermore, the lower bound of that estimate is higher than the number of votes Obama beat Clinton by in the states that were included in the sample. The data thus might be interpreted to indicate that Oprah’s endorsement was the deciding factor in Obama’s victory over Clinton….

This is an economists’ approach to the subject, but the very well documented paper is at least food for thought…

Read the entire paper here: http://www.econ.umd.edu/~garthwaite/celebrityendorsements_garthwaitemoore.pdf