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.

Winterschool on Elections and Electoral Behavior

Winter School: Bill Jacoby
Bill Jacoby on Ideology and Values

Some weeks after my research stay at André Blais´ Chair for Electoral Studies had begun, the Winter School on Voting Behavior happened to take in Montréal as well. It´s the second edition of a unique enterprise that brings together young students on electoral studies from across the globe with leading scholars in the field. PhD students from Latin- and North-America, China and Europe presented research such as on the effects of polls or cross-pressures on voting behavior.

Liran Harsgor presented a comprehensive and thought-out study on the gender gap in theWinter School: Lecture Blais United States for which she was awarded the Victor d´Hondt prize (well deserved!). For me, it was the first time to present a sketch of the Self-Determination Theory of Political Motivation. It was an experiment as the talk was bereft of any empirical analysis and focused exclusively on theoretical arguments. It was worth the effort for the positive and valuable feedback I received. You are invited to have a look at the slides here.

Winter School: Curling
Political scientists outside the office

While the afternoons were reserved for student presentations, the day began with a lecture by a senior scholar. André Blais gave an blunt („Economic Voting is overrated“) and impressive wrap-up 100 years of electoral studies that closed with a plea for a more imperialist discipline („My plea is: Study elections outside politics! Us, political scientists, we have to be more imperialist!“). Bill Jacoby talked about Values and Ideology and as the editor of the American Journal of Political Science he offered a spontaneous Q&A on Publishing („If you think about including a graph in a paper, there is only one statistical software you should use: R“).

Further talks were given by Ruth Dassonneville, Patrick Fournier, Richard Johnston, Sona Golder, Richard Lau and Marc Hooghe.

 

From Mannheim to Montréal

After exciting 15 months at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research and the Chair for Political Psychology, it is a time to start a new chapter. It will begin in Montréal, Québec.

Thanks to the amicable support of André Blais, I´ll have the opportunity to spend the upcoming months at the University of Montréal as a visiting researcher. Everyone interested in turnout behavior is familiar with the work of André Blais´ and his team of researchers at the Chair in Electoral Studies. Best known is his discussion of the merits and limits of rational choice theory with regard to voting behavior. In recent years André Blais and Carol Galais have taken up the challenge to investigate the perceived duty to vote more closely (1, 2, 3), as one of the variables with the highest explanatory power for electoral participation. Despite its central role in electoral studies, this concept of voting as a civic duty is not well understood. As my dissertation deals with the psychological mechanisms whereby social and moral norms influence political participation, our research interests intersect offering diverse opportunities for intellectual exchange. 

Apparently, the stay in Montréal will not only be of intellectual benefit. According to my guide, Montréal is said to be the cultural capital of Canada and even the New York Times has recently published a piece on the new, ‚hip‘ Canada. The author lists Justin Bieber and Ryan Gosling as prime examples for Canada´s new hipness..

If Justin Bieber doesn´t convince you of hip Canada, may be these fun facts will:

  • 1 out of 10 of the world´s trees is Canadian.
  • When you are in New Foundland (Eastern Canada), it´s closer to Ireland than it is to Vancouver.
  • Canada is cold. This doesn´t mean you´d a jacket. Just walk in the tunnels below the surface. 32 km of them. From shopping malls, theaters to concert halls: You can reach everything without seeing daylight. And, yes, if you feel the urgent for absolution after your shopping trip,  the Cathedrale Christ Church is also connected to the network of tunnels of course.