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Unpredictable Voters in Ideal Point Estimation

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  • Lauderdale, Benjamin E.

Abstract

Ideal point estimators are typically based on an assumption that all legislators are equally responsive to modeled dimensions of legislative disagreement; however, particularistic constituency interests and idiosyncrasies of individual legislators introduce variation in the degree to which legislators cast votes predictably. I introduce a Bayesian heteroskedastic ideal point estimator and demonstrate by Monte Carlo simulation that it outperforms standard homoskedastic estimators at recovering the relative positions of legislators. In addition to providing a refinement of ideal point estimates, the heteroskedastic estimator recovers legislator-specific error variance parameters that describe the extent to which each legislator's voting behavior is not conditioned on the primary axes of disagreement in the legislature. Through applications to the roll call histories of the U.S. Congress, the E.U. Parliament, and the U.N. General Assembly, I demonstrate how to use the heteroskedastic estimator to study substantive questions related to legislative incentives for low-dimensional voting behavior as well as diagnose unmodeled dimensions and nonconstant ideal points.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauderdale, Benjamin E., 2010. "Unpredictable Voters in Ideal Point Estimation," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 151-171, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:polals:v:18:y:2010:i:02:p:151-171_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Mahieu, Ronald & Raes, Louis, 2018. "Inferring hawks and doves from voting records," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 107-120.
    2. repec:kap:pubcho:v:176:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0540-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Daniel Lee, 2014. "Third-party threat and the dimensionality of major-party roll call voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 515-531, June.
    4. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Mahieu, Ronald J & Raes, Louis, 2015. "Hawks and Doves at the FOMC," CEPR Discussion Papers 10442, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Simon Hug & Richard Luk√°cs, 2014. "Preferences or blocs? Voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 83-106, March.
    6. Christopher Hare & Keith T. Poole, 2015. "Measuring ideology in Congress," Chapters, in: Jac C. Heckelman & Nicholas R. Miller (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Voting, chapter 18, pages 327-346, Edward Elgar Publishing.

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