Uncertainty or Ambiguity? Sources of Variation in Ideological Placements of Political Parties

37 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2013

See all articles by John Aldrich

John Aldrich

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Sandra J. Ley

Duke University

Gregory Schober

University of Texas at El Paso

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

In this paper we use CSES data to examine why there is variation in placement of political parties on left-right scales. In particular, we estimate multilevel models to assess the relative contribution of uncertainty and lack of information on the part of citizen-respondents, specific features of individual political parties, and the institutional designs of the various electoral systems as contributors to variability observed in citizen placement of the parties. Because lack of information on the part of the citizens may be revealed through failure to respond to the ideological scale questions or through random components to actual placements, we develop models that include assessments of both types of responses to reduce bias from considering only one source. We find that all three types of variables are relevant to understanding variation in perceptions of party positions. Finally, we demonstrate that uncertainty and variation have important consequences for the evaluation of political parties.

Suggested Citation

Aldrich, John and Ley, Sandra J. and Schober, Gregory, Uncertainty or Ambiguity? Sources of Variation in Ideological Placements of Political Parties (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2300911

John Aldrich (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-4346 (Phone)

Sandra J. Ley

Duke University

Gregory Schober

University of Texas at El Paso ( email )

500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79902
United States

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