revise and resubmit
- Causal Inference with Latent Outcomes2022
While causal inference has become front and center in empirical political science, we know little about how to analyze causality with latent outcomes, such as political values, beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. In this article, we develop a framework for defining, identifying, and estimating the causal effect of an observed treatment on a latent outcome, which we call the latent treatment effect (LTE). We describe a set of assumptions that allow us to identify the LTE and propose a hierarchical item response model to estimate it. We highlight an often overlooked exclusion restriction assumption, which states that treatment status should not affect the observed indicators other than through the latent outcome. A simulation study shows that the hierarchical approach offers unbiased estimates of the LTE under the identification assumptions, whereas all conventional two-step approaches suffer downward biases. We illustrate our proposed methodology using data from a survey experiment on the effect of descriptive representation on democratic legitimacy and a field experiment on reducing exclusionary attitudes.
- The Backlash against Free Movement: Does Internal EU Migration fuel Anti-immigration Concerns?Lukas F Stoetzer, and Martin Kroh2022
The free movement of people is a fundamental principle of the European Union. One reservation with this guiding principle is that the increasing inflow of EU migrants can fuel anti-immigrant attitudes in the receiving member states. We study how the EU eastern enlargement of 2004 and 2007 with the resulting increasing migration inflows influences concerns about immigration in the German public. Merging register-based annual migration statistics at the level of municipalities over a period of ten years with panel data on individuals’ attitudes in Germany and exploiting exogenous variation in the step-wise enlargement of the free movement policy, allows us to establish causal estimates of changing local EU internal migration on concerns about immigration. We find that an inflow of migrants from the new member states increases concerns about immigration, particularly among Germans with materialist-survival values and who are in labour market competition with migrants from new member states.
- The PARTYPRESS Database: A New Comparative Database of Parties’ Press Releases2022
We present the PARTYPRESS Database, which compiles more than 250,000 published press releases from 68 parties in nine European countries. The database covers the press releases of the most relevant political parties in these countries from 2010 onward. It provides a supervised machine learning classification of press releases into 21 unique issue categories according to a general codebook. The PARTYPRESS Database can be used to study parties’ issue agendas comparatively and over time. We extend a recent analysis in Gessler and Hunger (2022) to illustrate the usefulness of the database in studying dynamic party competition, communication, and behavior.
- Perceived Inequality and PopulismEuropean Political Science Association Conference 2021 and Inequality Conference, University of Konstanz 2022 2022
Rising inequalities have been described as a fertile ground for populist parties all over the globe. In this article, we argue that the perception of Inequality alone can strengthen populist attitudes and increase support for populist parties. Using data from the International Social Survey Programme, we find that those who perceive greater inequality in society are more likely to support populist parties. To explore the causal relationship, the study also conducts a survey experiment in Denmark, Germany, and Italy, randomly exposing participants to factual information about the wealth distribution. The results show that the perception of inequality can increase populist attitudes, but does not immediate affect the likelihood of voting for populist parties in this context. The findings speak to current debates on how inequality and their perception became a pre-condition for the rise of populist parties all over Europe.
- Can wedge strategies by mainstream parties cross-cut the far right vote?2022
Anti-immigration campaigns have helped far right parties to establish themselves in party systems around the world. We examine whether mainstream parties can employ wedge issue campaigns that divide the far right anti-immigration vote to win back electoral support. Wedge issues that cross-cut the anti-immigration vote may enhance the electoral support of mainstream parties, as long as they do not simultaneously alienate pro-immigration voters. We evaluate this expectation using a panel survey experiment conducted during the 2021 German federal election. The first wave allows us to identify wedge issues that the mainstream CDU/CSU can stress to cross-cut the anti-immigration vote. The second wave raises the salience of these issues by manipulating the perceived issue agenda of the CDU/CSU using hypothetical campaign posters. We find that this wedge strategy is effective for subgroups of voters, although it does not increase vote intentions for the CDU/CSU overall.
- When Knowledge Is Not Enough. Individual Preconditions for Strategic Voting2021
Voters often have to decide between supporting their preferred candidate or choosing a less appealing but more viable alternative. What are the underlying mechanisms that enable citizens to navigate these strategic trade-offs? Combining experimental and observational evidence from the UK, we differentiate three crucial preconditions for strategic voting—motivation, information, and capabilities—and provide converging evidence illuminating how these factors interact. Specifically, we find that high levels of motivation are a necessary condition for the beneficial effects of information and capabilities to manifest. Our findings suggest that a narrow focus on political knowledge to improve strategic voting and thereby democratic representation is short-sighted. Methodologically, we offer a novel experimental framework that enables researchers to independently manipulate different mechanisms underlying citizen competence.
- Voter expectations in district elections without local pollsEuropean Political Science Association Conference 2022. 2022
How do voters form accurate expectations about the strength of political candidates in district elections if there are no reliable district polls available? We argue that voters can use national election polls in combination with past election results to increase the accuracy of their expectations. A survey experiment during the German Federal Election of 2021 confirms that the provision of national election polls and past results increases the accuracy of voters’ expectations. The analysis further shows that voters leverage the information to update their beliefs. The results have relevant implications for the discussion about belief formation in low-information environments.
- Coalition-directed Voting as a LotteryWorkshop on Coalition Politics Humboldt University 2022 2022
When voters support parties in multi-party democracies, it is often uncertain what coalition government the party is likely to join. How do voters deal with this type of uncertainty? In this paper, we use a conceptual analogy between coalition-directed voting and participating in a lottery to develop a novel conceptualization of coalition-directed voting. We present observational and experimental results that support the idea that voters are risk averse when considering coalition government options. The perception of uncertain coalition prospects of a party negatively affects the propensity to vote for parties in survey data, even when holding the expected coalition government payoffs constant. In a survey vignette experiment during the German federal election 2021, we find that uncertain coalition prospects reduce the propensity to support a party, compared to certain coalition prospects with the same expected coalition government payoffs. The findings provide important insights for research on strategic voting theories and parties’ coalition strategies.
- The Effect of Political Arguments on Voting DecisionsLukas F Stoetzer, and Denise TraberSwiss Political Science Association (SPSA) Annual Conference in Zurich 2019 and Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago 2019. 2019
The question of what role political arguments play in democracy has taken centre stage in times of populism, post-truth discourse, and identity politics. It is relevant to analyse how political arguments affect policy preferences, but also how these effects carry over to the election of representatives. In this article, we test the persuasive effect of policy arguments on voting decisions. We combine a persuasion experiment using policy arguments with a conjoint experiment, in which voters choose between two candidates who differ in various policy positions. We conduct the experiment with two representative samples of the German voting-age population in June 2021 and August 2022 before the Election. In addition to testing the downstream effects of arguments on candidate choice, we distinguish between a persuasive effect of policy arguments (i.e. they affect vote decisions by changing the direction of policy preferences) and a priming effect of arguments (i.e. they affect vote decisions by changing the salience of policy preferences). The findings show that persuasion plays a more central role in how arguments shape voters’ decision making. The results have a multitude of implications for the role of political arguments in Democracies, political campaigns, and party competition.
- Effective electoral competition through selective issue emphasisAmerican European Political Science Association Conference 2022. 2022
Selective issue emphasis is a key strategy to win electoral support in political campaigns. However, while numerous studies have focused on explaining why certain issues are selected, we know surprisingly little about which issue selection is electorally most successful. We argue, and provide causal evidence, that emphasizing policy issues on which political parties have competency advantages over their competitors is more successful than highlighting issues that are salient among voters in electoral campaigns. We evaluate our expectations using a realistic panel survey experiment with high external validity during the German Federal Election in 2021. Our results show that a competency-based issue campaign increases support, while a campaign highlighting salient issues is not successful.
- Do parties respond to natural disasters?2022
Do parties respond to natural disasters? Even though climate change has lead to a dramatic increase in the number of natural disasters, we know little about how parties react to these devastating events. We shed light on this important question by leveraging a data on natural disasters, which we combine with a newly compiled dataset comprising more than 260,000 press releases from 68 parties across 9 countries between 2010 and 2020. Using supervised learning algorithms, we study party responsiveness dynamically by estimating a measure of parties’ monthly issue attention to environmental issues. Employing a causal identification strategy leveraging the exogenous nature of natural disasters, we show that political parties are only responsive to natural disasters when they are in government and under electoral pressure due to an upcoming election. Our results have important implications for the responsiveness of parties to environmental challenges.
- Pre-electoral Coalition Strategies in Multiparty SystemsEuropean Political Science AssociationConference 2018 and Swiss Political Science Association (SPSA) Annual Conference in Zurich 2019 and 2021. 2021
Government coalitions are a foreseeable and central feature of governance in multiparty systems. This fact often compels parties to make coalition politics part of their pre-election campaign effort, signaling their preferred coalition to the electorate. In this article, we derive theoretical expectations that take voters reaction to pre-electoral coalitions into account under what conditions pre-electoral coalitions form and which parties form such coalitions. The model reveals that the ideological configuration of the coalition matters: Parties favor joining pre-electoral coalitions with partners that are found on the same side of the ideological spectrum. Bringing together data about pre-electoral coalitions in 398 legislative elections from 22 advanced industrialized democratic countries from 1946 to 2014 permits us to support this hypothesis. The finding that parties are more likely to enter bloc pre-electoral coalitions has important implications for accountability and representation in proportional systems.