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Exit Polling and Racial Bloc Voting: Combining Individual-Level and R x C Ecological Data

33 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2009 Last revised: 6 Nov 2013

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

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Date Written: July 3, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: racial bloc voting, ecological inference, Bayesian inference

JEL Classification: C11

Suggested Citation

Greiner, D. James and Quinn, Kevin M., Exit Polling and Racial Bloc Voting: Combining Individual-Level and R x C Ecological Data (July 3, 2009). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 09-40; CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1429319 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1429319

Daniel James Greiner (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kevin M. Quinn

UC Berkeley School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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