New publication in Party Politics: Will participation in an intra-party referendum affect how members perceive the party organization?

 

After the country’s reunification German political parties have lost half of their members. Parties respond by expanding intra-party participation. Their goal is to revitalize party organizations and to motivate more citizens to join.

Using original data, we investigate the consequences of an intraparty referendum in a state branch of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union on beliefs and attitudes of party members. We use longitudinal survey data bracketing a nonbinding issue referendum on the party’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Figure 1: Party-related efficacy before and after the referendum

Our analysis shows that the referendum had secondary effects that went beyond the referendum’s primary goal of delivering an informal opinion poll to the party leadership. The experience of having a say in an important policy decision fostered members’ sense of party-specific efficacy.  The increases were higher among members who did not perceive themselves as efficacious before. Efficacy increased independent of a member’s voting behavior.

 

Figure 2: Influence of respondent’s position on same sex marriage on evaluations of party elites

Secondly, the referendum provided party members with information on elite positions and stimulated leadership evaluation based on issue congruency.  As a result. members use issue-positions as yardstick to evaluate party leaders, if party elites took a stance on same-sex marriage.

Altogether, involvement in intraparty decision-making promotes beliefs and behaviors among the rank and file that are relevant to uphold a vivid and empowering party life.

In the ongoing discussions about expanding intra-party democracy (such as the one we are witnessing in Germany’s Social Democratic Party at the moment), we believe that party members and party leaders can learn from our study about likely effects of opportunities for member participation. Against the backdrop of the study’s relevance to inform these debates, SAGE graciously decided to make the study public for a couple of months.

The study can be obtained here. We also make available the survey data of our two-wave panel study of party members and the syntaxes of our analyses.

 

Science Podcast: Improve your research on the treadmill

I eat a lot. Therefore I need to spend a lot of time in the gym. Turns out it is a good place to learn about science and to improve your research skills. Take New Books in Political Science, for example. Books have many pages and need much time to read. Why not letting the author herself explain to you in 15 minutes what the book is about while you are grocery shopping?

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Being serious, podcast obviously cannot substitute reading a book or an article in its entirety. But just like skimming an abstract, it provides an overview of what is out there and provides you with the information to decide on whether you want to dig deeper.

There are many excellent science-related podcast out there. Some of them are about researching itself, some about specific subfields. Here’s my selection:

New Books in Political Science – Political Science

The podcast features short interviews about recently published books with political scientists from all subfields of the disciplines. New Books in Political Science is part of the New-Books-Network which also has fascinating podcasts on psychology, philosophy, history…

WZBDemocracy German, political science

Scientists from the Berlin-based WZB talk about their research. Previous episodes on electoral system, populism, political parties…

You Are Not So Smart

Today, I read on Christiane Grünloh’s blog about You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. I haven’t listened to it myself yet, but it appears to be a promising podcast on persuasion and social psychology in general.

Vox: The Weed – Journalism, Policies

Four journalists talk about US-american policies, often drawing on insights from political science. Features Ezra Klein, one of the most innovative journalists of his generation.

Everything hertz – Methods, Open Science

Two crazy guys talk about the newest gossip and developments in the academic twittersphere. A good example of how we can learn across disciplines because one is a psychologist and the other a Bio…something. One big topic: Methods and promoting open science and research transparency.

The Startup Scientist – Doing research

Dan Quintana (Everything hertz) gives advice on how to develop your career as a scientist using a start-up framework. Excellent tips that really changed how I do my work.

Conversations with Tyler – Smart conversations

Economist Tyler Cowen discusses the world’s big questions with invited guests and often even the question is already smarter than any answer could possibly be.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – History

This is not my field and I have no idea how historians judge the scientific accuracy of Dan Carlin’s explanation of why the world came about the way it is. In any case, he can make you feel like you are reliving historic moments.

In our Time BBC – Diverse

30-minute discussions of a selected topic (truth, Picasso’s Guernica, Feathered Dinosaurs, Plato’s Republic…) with four academic export.

Freakonomics – Economics, long-read

Using insights from economics, this podcast explains at depth every-day-phenomena.

 

This is not enough? Here’s an even longer lister of science podcasts.

I am grateful for further suggestions on good podcasts in the comments!

Polls: Do they measure or do they influence voting intentions?

Polls are ubiquitous. Here in Germany, these are the final days of the run-up to the federal elections and each and every day we wake up to a new poll. There are so many of them by now that it is hard to keep track even if you wanted to. Platforms like zweitstimme.org and signal&rauschen aggregate these polls and extract the signal in the noise.

Polls do convey valuable information for voters. They inform us us about the voting intentions of fellow citizens, enabling us to vote strategically depending on the presumed vote shares of single parties (parliamentary threshold) or party coalitions (parliamentary majority).

However, polls are unloved. They resemble the trend towards horse-race journalism which treats elections merely as a sportive competition and not as a struggle of ideas or as the honorable emblem of liberal and self-governing societies. A different line of criticism argues that polls not only measure but also influence voting intentions. In the research section you find an old paper draft [German] on this topic with a methodological discussion on investigating it with RCS-survey data. Moreover, yesterday I talked with German radio station WDR2 about this topic [German].

Interview WDR2

New publication: “When the world around you is changing: Investigating the Influence of Alienation and Indifference on Voter Turnout”

This chapter investigates the amount of variability in individual turnout decisions over time and its dependence on the changing characteristics of political parties as one feature of the political context. Electoral participation in the German federal elections from 1994 to 2013 was characterized by inertia for most eligible voters. However, one reason for dynamics in turnout behavior is changes in individual alienation with regard to the political parties. When voters develop a more favorable view of the political parties than in the previous election in terms of the parties’ generalized evaluation or perceived competence, then they are motivated to switch from abstention to voting (and vice versa). But the political parties’ capacity to raise turnout rates is rather narrow compared to the influence of other determinants, such as the perceived duty to vote. decisions.

The study will be published this fall by Oxford University Press as a chapter in a book on ‘Voters and Voting in Context’  (eds. Schoen, Harald; Roßteutscher, Sigrid; Schmitt-Beck, Rüdiger; Weßels, Bernhard; Wolf, Christof). Here you can find a Pre-PrintOnline-Appendix and Stata Replication Files.

 

Wuttke, Alexander (2017). “When the world around you is changing: Investigating the Influence of Alienation and Indifference on Voter Turnout”, in: Schoen, Harald; Roßteutscher, Sigrid; Schmitt-Beck, Rüdiger; Weßels, Bernhard; Wolf, Christof (eds.): “Voters and Voting in Context”, Oxford University Press, pp. pp. 146–166.

Wahlkampf-Panel Deutsche Wahlstudie, Welle 2: Der Schulz-Effekt

Die Deutsche Wahlstudie ist eine zentrale wissenschaftliche Instanz zur Beobachtung des Wahlverhaltens in Deutschland und gehört zu den umfangreichsten Wahlstudien weltweit.

Das Was und Warum von Wiederholungsbefragungen

Eine Komponente (nähere Beschreibung weiterer Komponenten hier) der Deutschen Wahlstudie ist die regelmäßige Wiederholungsbefragung von etwa 20.000 Wahlberechtigten. Diese Online-Panel-Befragung begann im Herbst 2016 und beobachtet für jeden dieser Befragten wie sich ihre politischen Einstellungen und Wahlabsichten über die Zeit verändern.

Gewöhnliche Querschnittsbefragungen erlauben Rückschlüsse darauf wie sich die Stimmung des Wahlvolkes in der Gesamtheit verändert; dass in dieser Woche mehr Leute SPD wählen wollen als noch vor sechs Monaten.

Wiederholungsbefragungen erlauben völlig andere Fragen zu stellen:

  • Wie reagierten Befragte, die im Herbst noch Linkspartei wählen wollten, auf die Nominierung von Martin Schulz und wie reagierten Personen, die sich ihrer Wahlabsicht unschlüssig waren?
  • Wie stabil sind Wahlabsichten für die AfD oder andere Parteien über Monate hinweg?
  • Wie beeinflusste der Anschlag auf den Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt die Angst vor Terrorismus unter denjenigen, die vorher keine großen Sorgen äußerten,  und wie wirkte das Ereignis auf zuvor bereits verunsicherte Personen?

So eben wurde die zweite Welle der der Deutschen Wahlstudie veröffentlicht (frei verfügbar hier). Die erste Welle erfolgte im September 2016, die zweite Welle im Februar/März 2017. Diese gerade veröffentlichten Daten sind wertvoll, weil sie eine ereignis- und folgenreichen Periode der deutschen Politik erfassen. Im Folgenden einige beispielhafte Analysen zu einem dieser Ereignisse: dem Schulz-Effekt.

Der Schulz-Effekt

In Querschnittsbefragungen sind Rückerinnerungsfragen die einzige Möglichkeit, um intra-individuelle Veränderungen zu verfolgen. Solche Fragen sind aber notorisch unzuverlässig (1, 2). Wenn sich nach einer Wahl die Beurteilung zu einer Partei verschlechtert, können oder wollen sich Respondenten in der Regel nicht daran erinnern, diese Partei jemals gewählt zu haben.

In Wiederholungsbefragungen dagegen hat man schwarz auf weiß die Wanderungsbewegungen jedes einzelnen Wählers registriert. Die ungewichtete Online-Stichprobe dagegen hat den Nachteil, dass sie von vornherein die deutsche Grundbevölkerung nicht abbilden kann und in diesem Aspekt fehleranfällig ist. So aber können sich verschiedene Datenquellen ergänzen.

Im Folgenden werfen wir einen Blick auf Schulz-Wechsler: Diejenigen Personen, die nach der Nominierung von Martin Schulz zum SPD-Kanzlerkandidat im Frühjahr 2017 zur SPD übergelaufen sind und im Herbst 2016 noch eine andere (oder keine) Wahlabsicht angegeben hatten.

SPD? Nie! Oder doch.

Abbildung 1 vergleicht zwischen späteren Schulz-Wechslern und allen übrigens Befragten in der Stichprobe, ob sie sich im Herbst 2016 prinzipiell vorstellen könnten der SPD ihre Stimme zu geben. Die Abbildung zeigt wie problematisch Introspektion zur Erklärung oder Vorhersage eigenen Verhaltens sein kann. Der Schulz-Effekt hat auch Leute zur SPD bekehrt, die eine Wahl der SPD im Herbst noch völlig ausgeschlossen hatten. 13% der Personen, die im Frühjahr 2017 ins SPD Lager gewechselt sind, hatte noch einige Monate zuvor erklärt, dass diese Partei für sie “auf keinen Fall in Frage” komme.

Zum groß überwiegenden Teil hat Schulz aber diejenigen abgeschöpft und mobilisiert, die der SPD ohnehin aufgeschlossen gegenüber standen.

Woher kommen die Schulz-Wechsler?

Abbildung 2 zeigt die Wahlabsicht im Herbst 2016 und damit die Wählerwanderung der Schulz-Wechsler. Der Schulz-Effekt rekrutierte Wähler aus dem linken Lager oder aus ehemals Unschlüssigen. Immerhin aber hatte jeder 10. Schulz-Wechsler im Herbst noch vor AfD zu wählen. (Die Grafik zeigt aber auch die Verzerrungen der Stichprobe. Unions-Wähler sind unter- und AfD-Wähler sind über-repräsentiert.)

Die politischen Einstellungen der loyalen SPD-Wähler und der Schulz-Wechsler

Die folgenden Grafiken vergleichen Schulz-Wechsler mit loyalen SPD-Wählern, die sowohl im Herbst 2016 wie auch im Frühjahr 2017 SPD gewählt haben. Die Violionenplots zeigt die Verteilung eines Merkmals und gibt mit einem weißen Marker im Zentrum den jeweiligen Median an.

Wie unterscheiden sich Schulz-Wechsler von loyalen SPD-Wählern ideologisch?

Gar nicht.

Neu-Sympathisanten und loyale SPD-Wähler ticken in der ideologischen Links-Rechts-Selbsteinordnung (Welle 1) sehr ähnlich.

Wie unterscheiden sich Schulz-Wechsler von loyalen SPD-Wählern in Einstellungen zum Sozialstaaat?         

Gar nicht.

In der Abwägung zwischen weniger Sozialstaat oder weniger Steuern (Welle 1) hegen Neu-Sympathisanten und loyale SPD-Wähler sehr ähnliche Vorstellungen.

Wie unterscheiden sich Schulz-Wechsler von loyalen SPD-Wählern in Einstellungen zu Ausländern?

Etwas

Der Median ist identisch, aber unter Schulz-Wechslern sind etwas mehr Personen mit extremen Ablehnungen gegenüber Ausländern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wie unterscheiden sich Schulz-Wechsler von loyalen SPD-Wählern in Politikverdrossenheit / externale Selbstwirksamkeitseinschätzung?         

Etwas. Der Median ist identisch, aber unter Schulz-Wechslern sind etwas mehr Personen mit extremer Politikverdrossenheit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diffussion des Schulz-Effektes auf Parteibewertung

Die Aufstellung von Schulz hat auf die Partei abgefärbt: Der Schulz-Effekt ging mit einer deutlichen Veränderung in der Bewertung der Partei einher. Die Schulz-Wechsler standen der SPD in W1 noch verhalten gegenüber und haben sich in der Beurteilung den loyalen SPD-Wählern stark angehnähert.

 

Was haben wir gelernt?

  • Dass die zweite Welle des Wahlkampfpanels veröffentlicht wurde und sich Hervorragendes damit anfängen lässt!
  • Dass Leute nicht wissen, was sie tun und schon gar nicht ahnen, was sie tun werden (Manche derer, die heute SPD wählen, haben dies noch im Herbst ausgeschlossen)
  • Dass sich die neuen SPD-Wähler von den loyalen Anhängern in ihren ideologischen Orientierungen und Einstellungen zum Sozialstaat und zu Ausländern nur wenig unterscheiden.

Abschließend noch der Hinweis, dass es sich bei allen präsentierten Ergebnissen um vorläufige Analysen handelt.

Talking persuasion and participation at #MPSA2017

Conferences are the sweet treat of academic life. At MPSA in Chicago I had the chance discuss a paper on electoral integrity and to present two of our own ongoing studies. Here are my slides:

Comparing evidence from parallel survey and field experiments: The persuasive effects of an interest group mailing

Self-determination in political engagement: a motivational perspective on why citizens do (not) engage with politics

German Campaign Panel 2017: Wave 1 (N=18.000) is now publicly available.

Great news!

Wave 1 of the German Campaign Panel 2017 is now available and waiting to be analyzed by you.

About 18.000 respondents were surveyed online in October and November 2016. It is a long questionnaire (about 25 minutes for the average respondents). It contains several batteries on attitudes towards politicians and political parties, psychological predispositions, values and issue orientations, social networks and media usage. It is the first of many waves to come up to the German federal election in September 2017.

You can download the data here.

The dataset contains respondents from two previous GLES-project which I had described in an earlier blog post:

  • Long-term panel of the campaign panel: This is in unplanned but beloved child. The GLES started an online campaign panel in the weeks before the 2009-federal election. When the colleagues were setting up a replication for the 2013-election they discovered that many of the 2009-panelists were still active. So, they decided to recruit them again which is why for >1,000 individuals we can observe with amazing detail individual stability of dynamics not only within an electoral campaigns but also across electoral campaigns (2009-2013). We follow up on that and survey about 5,000 respondents that were active participants of previous campaign panels. Beginning with the second wave, they will be treated like ordinary members of our biggest project, the 2017 campaign panel.
  • Campaign panel: Compared to its predecessors, the 2017 campaign panels evolves both in quality and in quantity. This campaign panel starts with a drastically expanded sample size of 15,000 individuals, allowing for very fine-grained analyses of even small subgroups of the electorate (strategic voters, young voters and so on). Second, this time the campaign panel starts long before the actual campaign. The campaign panel aims at better understanding campaign effects. To achieve this we need a benchmark to which stability and dynamics during campaigns is compared.

Testing persuasion in the real world

The effectiveness of political actors in influencing public opinion by specific persuasive appeals is poorly understood. From laboratory experiments we have learned that persuasive stimuli (i.e. having participants watch a documentary or read a newspaper story) does have effects on attitudes. These experiments also reveal insights into to the psychological mechanisms of attitude change. We know less about the persistence of persuasive treatments over time (which is what matters in actual campaigns) and even less is known about the ecological validity of these experiments. What sounds like a technicality is crucial and addresses the core of persuasion research in political communication: It is unresolved to what degree and under which circumstances findings from artificial laboratory setting can be generalized to the real world, particularly the communication of actual political actors. Since research ultimately aims at understanding the world outside the lab, this is a crucial gap in our knowledge. Field-experiments are the natural candidate to investigate how persuasion works in applied settings. In recent years some scholars have started to conduct this kind of research with increasing intensity (among others, David Broockman has published several interesting studies on this topic)

Treatment Material
Treatment Material, Offline

Financed by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and in collaboration with the German employers´ interest group Gesamtmetall we have conducted a persuasion experiment and present first and preliminary results. Andreas Jungherr is the principal investigator of this project and Matthias Mader and Harald Schoen also work on this. In the following, I will briefly present some slides from a presentation Andreas will give at the International Conference for Political Communication #IKPK16 in Berlin.

In this study, subjects received a mailing sent on behalf of ‘Gesamtmetall’ on  the issue of a free trade agreement (TTIP). Subjects (N=8.000) were randomly exposed to either a postal mailing under field conditions or to an identical facsimile as part of an online survey or no to treatment at all.

Treatment Material, Online
Treatment Material, Online

Attitudes on the issue in questions -TTIP- vary considerably. More people (42,9%) oppose the proposed trade than than people who support it (32,1%). 25 percent of respondents chose the scale mid-points of our three-item-construct on TTIP-attitudes.

Preliminary analyses of the treatment effect shows substantial persuasion among both experimental groups with larger effect sizes in the survey-experiment. In post-treatment wave 2 48% of respondents opposed TTIP and 27% supported TTIP. Those who have received a postal letter from the interest group which argued for the benefits of TTIP have considerably more favorable attitudes towards this trade deal. The share of supporter grew to 32% and the share of opposed respondents shrinked to 44%. (Yes, the effect is statistically significant at p<0.001). As expected, the effect is even stronger when the panelists have not received a physical letter, but have read the letter as part of our online survey. 45 percent (!) supported TTIP with only 32.5% opposing TTIP in this condition. So, having read the arguments by the German association ‘Gesamtmetall’ basically reverts the opinion among respondents in the survey-experimental-condition from a solid plurality against TTIP to a solid plurality of ttip-supporters.

The lower (but still substantially important) effect size in the field-experimental condition compared to the survey-experimental condition has a variety of (very interesting) causes. Among them are non-compliance (simply not opening or reading the letter) and the bigger distance in time between treatment administration and measurement in the field-experimental mode. However, importantly, while the effects of the treatment naturally decline over time, they are persistent one week after the administration of the treatment.

attitudes towards TTIP across experimental groups in wave 2
attitudes towards TTIP across experimental groups in wave 2 (Order: Support TTIP, Neither/Nor, Oppose TTIP)
attitudes towards TTIP across experimental groups
attitudes towards TTIP across experimental groups in wave 3 (Order: Support TTIP, Neither/Nor, Oppose TTIP)

The persuasion effects are highly statistically significant in the field- and in the survey-experimental-condition (and no, the result is no artifact of our trichotomization of the DV). Proper statistical analyses were already conducted. However, the relieving point is that even without fancy regression analyses our results are robust and effects can be detected with simple instruments of comparisons of means that are comprehensible without statistical education.

This posting gave a glimpse into the persuasion effect of our experiment. More generally, this is an exciting project because it allows tapping into a variety of  different kinds of unanswered questions about how attitudes develop and change. We have conducted extensive analyses on the predictors explaining attitudes toward TTIP and free trade which will be reported some time later. The research design of parallel experiments is very interesting from a methodological perspective and hopefully leads to a better understanding of differences and commonalities of field- and survey-experiments. One example for this is the chance to investigate how selective exposure and motivated reasoning (established phenomena in lab experiments) will behave in the field and how this will influence the actual treatment effects in the field compared to the effect in the survey-experiment. The wealth of data we have will also allow us to tap into the psychological mechanisms behind the persuasion we have observed. Lastly, we had included another small experimental variation concerning the content of the latter (one-sided vs. two-sided).

Andreas will talk about some of these topics this Monday at #IKPK16 in greater detail. I just want to give a peek into one phenomenon I find particularly interesting. Pundits and scholars alike often argue that the findings on persuasion would not replicate outside the lab because citizens can often choose what message to consume and people would be motivated to avoid political messages that do not match their pre-existing beliefs. Therefore, persuasive appeals would mostly preach to the converted.

Our data does not support this notion of selective exposure. The pre-treatment attitude toward TTIP or union-membership is not or only weakly correlated with whether an individual has decided to read the letter. This is the case, although we had printed on the envelope “PRO TTIP!” in the biggest letters possible and it also states that it was sent by a pro-business interest group.  We have also conducted some analyses showing  not much evidence for biased processing (motivated reasoning) either. So, there are interesting weeks ahead for those involved in project, in which we can learn more about how persuasion works in an applied setting.

 

self-reported rates of having read the postal letter by pre-treatment-attitude and by union-membership
self-reported rates of having read the postal letter by pre-treatment-attitude and by union-membership

Launch of the German Longitudinal Election Study´s panel component

This week we have launched the first wave of the German Longitudinal Election Study´s panel component. What makes the German Election Study so appealing is its extensive reach into different facets of voting behavior. For each of these dimensions (media effects, campaign effects, long-term trends etc.) different research designs were developed and tailored to better understand each of these elements. The GLES is a service to the community of electoral researches. The GLES produces high-quality social scientific data sets on voter behavior (and media coverage) and make these publicly available. Noteworthy is the over-arching framework of the GLES which integrates these components in order to facilitate research across disciplinary boundaries. For example, identical coding schemes and question formats are used across all components.

I work for the panel component of the German Election Study.  Prof Dr Harald Schoen is the principal investigator of this component. After a comprehensive pre-test in the summer, this week we have launched the first wave of the panel component. The component itself consists of three studies:

  • Long-term panel: In this study, voters are surveyed over the course of three elections. From the past election we have retained a sample of about 2,000 respondents. One interesting methodological aspect: It´s a multi-mode study with parallel online and postal surveys. The long-term panel is an amazing data source. It allows to see if and how voters react to the changing political context they are embedded in: Whether shifts of party platforms actually make voters switch their vote choices (or even turnout decisions? Hint: Yes, but to a small extent), if characteristics of the specific election mobilizes citizens who previously abstained to turn out to vote this time or how long-term changes in political attitudes (such as political efficacy or satisfaction with democracy) interacts with voting behavior. These every-day-questions of electoral research consider temporal variation and should therefore be tested with long-term panel data sets which are heavily under-utilized (not just this one, but long-term panels on elections in general). It is surprising that in electoral studies we still rely so much on cross-sectional data (despite all their problems with biased retrospection and causal identification) where it is sometimes obvious that long-term data sets would be the more adequate choice.
  • Long-term panel of the campaign panel: This is in unplanned but beloved child. The GLES started an online campaign panel in the weeks before the 2009-federal election. When the colleagues were setting up a replication for the 2013-election they discovered that many of the 2009-panelists were still active. So, they decided to recruit them again which is why for >1,000 individuals we can observe with amazing detail individual stability of dynamics not only within an electoral campaigns but also across electoral campaigns (2009-2013). We follow up on that and survey about 5,000 respondents that were active participants of previous campaign panels. Beginning with the second wave, they will be treated like ordinary members of our biggest project, the 2017 campaign panel.
  • Campaign panel: Compared to its predecessors, the 2017 campaign panels evolves both in quality and in quantity. This campaign panel starts with a drastically expanded sample size of 15,000 individuals, allowing for very fine-grained analyses of even small subgroups of the electorate (strategic voters, young voters and so on). Second, this time the campaign panel starts long before the actual campaign. The campaign panel aims at better understanding campaign effects. To achieve this we need a benchmark to which stability and dynamics during campaigns is compared.

For more information on the GLES and to obtain the data sets, visit www.gles.eu.