Using Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey Scaling to Study Citizens’ Ideological Preferences and Perceptions

38 Pages Posted: 14 May 2019

See all articles by Christopher Hare

Christopher Hare

University of Georgia

David A. Armstrong

University of Western Ontario

Ryan Bakker

University of Georgia

Royce Carroll

University of Essex - Department of Government

Keith T. Poole

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: July 2, 2014

Abstract

Aldrich-McKelvey scaling is a powerful method that corrects for differential item functioning (DIF) in estimating the positions of political stimuli (e.g., parties and candidates) and survey respondents along a latent policy dimension from issue scale data. DIF arises when respondents interpret issue scales (like the standard liberal-conservative scale) differently and distort their placements of the stimuli and themselves. We develop a Bayesian implementation of the classical maximum likelihood Aldrich-McKelvey scaling method that overcomes some important shortcomings in the classical procedure. We then apply this method to study citizens’ ideological preferences and perceptions using data from the 2004-2012 American National Election Studies and the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Our findings indicate that DIF biases self-placements on the liberal-conservative scale in a way that understates the extent of polarization in the contemporary American electorate and that citizens have remarkably accurate perceptions of the ideological positions of Senators and Senate candidates.

Keywords: ideology, measurement, Bayesian methods, polarization, ideal point estimation

Suggested Citation

Hare, Christopher and Armstrong, David A. and Bakker, Ryan and Carroll, Royce and Poole, Keith T., Using Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey Scaling to Study Citizens’ Ideological Preferences and Perceptions (July 2, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3375435 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3375435

Christopher Hare

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

David A. Armstrong

University of Western Ontario ( email )

1151 Richmond Street
Suite 2
London, Ontario N6A 5B8
Canada

Ryan Bakker

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

Royce Carroll

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Keith T. Poole (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Baldwin Hall
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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