Exit Polling and Racial Bloc Voting: Combining Individual-Level and R x C Ecological Data
D. James Greiner
Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Kevin M. Quinn
UC Berkeley School of Law
July 3, 2009
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 09-40
CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Despite its shortcomings, cross-level or ecological inference remains a necessary part of many areas of quantitative inference, including in United States voting rights litigation. Ecological inference suffers from a lack of identification that, most agree, is best addressed by incorporating individual-level data into the model. In this paper, we test the limits of such an incorporation by attempting it in the context of drawing inferences about racial voting patterns using a combination of an exit poll and precinct-level ecological data; accurate information about racial voting patterns is needed to trigger voting rights laws that can determine the composition of United States legislative bodies. Specifically, we extend and study a hybrid model that addresses two-way tables of arbitrary dimension. We apply the hybrid model to an exit poll we administered in the City of Boston in 2008. Using the resulting data as well as simulation, we compare the performance of a pure ecological estimator, pure survey estimators using various sampling schemes, and our hybrid. We conclude that the hybrid estimator offers substantial benefits by enabling substantive inferences about voting patterns not practicably available without its use.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: racial bloc voting, ecological inference, Bayesian inference
JEL Classification: C11
Date posted: July 5, 2009 ; Last revised: November 6, 2013
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