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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

“Heckman curve” update: The data don’t seem to support the claim that human capital investments are most effective when targeted at younger ages.

David Rea and Tony Burton write: The Heckman Curve describes the rate of return to public investments in human capital for the disadvantaged as rapidly diminishing with age. Investments early in the life course are characterised as providing significantly higher rates of return compared to investments targeted at young people and adults. This paper uses […]

N=1 survey points to Beto O’Rourke as Democratic nominee in 2020

Last year we did an N=1 poll on the Democratic primary election for governor of New York. And the poll worked pretty well. To recap: A survey with N=1! And not even a random sample. How could we possibly learn anything useful from that? We have a few things in our favor: – Auxiliary information […]

David Weakliem on the U.S. electoral college

The sociologist and public opinion researcher has a series of excellent posts here, here, and here on the electoral college. Here’s the start: The Electoral College has been in the news recently. I [Weakliem] am going to write a post about public opinion on the Electoral College vs. popular vote, but I was diverted into […]

Most Americans like big businesses.

Tyler Cowen asks: Why is there so much suspicion of big business? Perhaps in part because we cannot do without business, so many people hate or resent business, and they love to criticize it, mock it, and lower its status. Business just bugs them. . . . The short answer is, No, I don’t think […]

When and how do politically extreme candidates get punished at the polls?

In 2016, Tausanovitch and Warshaw performed an analysis “using the largest dataset to date of voting behavior in congressional elections” and found: Ideological positions of congressional candidates have only a small association with citizens’ voting behavior. Instead, citizens cast their votes “as if” based on proximity to parties rather than individual candidates. The modest degree […]

Raghuram Rajan: “The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind”

A few months ago I receive a copy of the book, “The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind,” by economist Raghuram Rajan. The topic is important and the book is full of interesting thoughts. It’s hard for me to evaluate Rajan’s economics and policy advice, so I’ll leave that to […]

Political Polarization and Gender Gap: I Don’t Get Romer’s Beef with Bacon.

Gur Huberman writes: Current politics + statistical analysis, the Paul Romer v. 538 edition: Economist Paul Romer is criticizing a news article by Perry Bacon, Jr. entitled, “The Biggest Divides On The Kavanaugh Allegations Are By Party — Not Gender.” My reaction: I don’t get Romer’s beef. Bacon’s article seems reasonable to me: He […]

Remember that paper we wrote, The mythical swing voter? About shifts in the polls being explainable by differential nonresponse? Mark Palko beat us to this idea, by 4 years.

So. The other day I came across a link by Palko to this post from 2012, where he wrote: Pollsters had long tracked campaigns by calling random samples of potential voters. As campaign became more drawn out and journalistic focus shifted to the horse race aspects of election, these phone polls proliferated. At the same […]

A corpus in a single survey!

This was something we used a few years ago in one of our research projects and in the paper, Difficulty of selecting among multilevel models using predictive accuracy, with Wei Wang, but didn’t follow up on. I think it’s such a great idea I want to share it with all of you. We were applying […]

Journalist seeking scoops is as bad as scientist doing unreplicable research

Tom Scocca shares this dispiriting story: Yesterday, as a news day, was an even worse cascade of lies and confusion and gibberish than usual. Yet what stood out the most was a single word: “Clarification.” It appeared at the bottom of a very short Axios post by reporter Jonathan Swan, introducing a note that read, […]

“Yes, not only am I suspicious of the claims in that op-ed, I’m also suspicious of all the individual claims from the links in these two sentences”

Someone pointed me with suspicion to a newspaper article that reported a cool-looking social science result, and asked me for my thoughts. I replied, Yes, not only am I suspicious of the claims in that article, I’m also suspicious of all the individual claims from these links. And I pointed to a bunch of links […]

My talk today (Tues 19 Feb) 2pm at the University of Southern California

At the Center for Economic and Social Research, Dauterive Hall (VPD), room 110, 635 Downey Way, Los Angeles: The study of American politics as a window into understanding uncertainty in science Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University We begin by discussing recent American elections in the context of political […]

Simulation-based statistical testing in journalism

Jonathan Stray writes: In my recent Algorithms in Journalism course we looked at a post which makes a cute little significance-type argument that five Trump campaign payments were actually the $130,000 Daniels payoff. They summed to within a dollar of $130,000, so the simulation recreates sets of payments using bootstrapping and asks how often there’s […]

Global warming? Blame the Democrats.

An anonymous blog commenter sends the above graph and writes: I was looking at the global temperature record and noticed an odd correlation the other day. Basically, I calculated the temperature trend for each presidency and multiplied by the number of years to get a “total temperature change”. If there was more than one president […]

If you want to measure differences between groups, measure differences between groups.

Les Carter points to the article, Coming apart? Cultural distances in the United States over time, by Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica, which states: There is a perception that cultural distances are growing, with a particular emphasis on increasing political polarization. . . . Carter writes: I am troubled by the inferences in the paper. […]

No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points

Tyler Cowen writes: This is only one estimate, from Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu, but nonetheless it is backed by a plausible identification stragegy and this is very interesting research: We find that in a hypothetical world without Fox News but with no other changes, the Republican vote share in the 2000 election would […]

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water . . . SHARK ATTACKS in the Journal of Politics

We’ve been here before. Back in 2002, political scientists Chris Achen and Larry Bartels presented a paper “Blind Retrospection – Electoral Responses to Drought, Flu and Shark Attacks.” Here’s a 2012 version in which the authors trace “the electoral impact of a clearly random event—a dramatic series of shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916” […]

Moneyball for evaluating community colleges

From an interesting statistics-laden piece by “Dean Dad”: Far more community college students transfer prior to completing the Associate’s degree than actually complete first. According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, about 350,000 transfer before completion, compared to about 60,000 who complete first. That matters in several ways. Most basically, […]

Does Harvard discriminate against Asian Americans in college admissions?

Sharad Goel, Daniel Ho and I looked into the question, in response to a recent lawsuit. We wrote something for the Boston Review: What Statistics Can’t Tell Us in the Fight over Affirmative Action at Harvard Asian Americans and Academics “Distinguishing Excellences” Adjusting and Over-Adjusting for Differences The Evolving Meaning of Merit Character and Bias […]

MRP (multilevel regression and poststratification; Mister P): Clearing up misunderstandings about

Someone pointed me to this thread where I noticed some issues I’d like to clear up: David Shor: “MRP itself is like, a 2009-era methodology.” Nope. The first paper on MRP was from 1997. And, even then, the component pieces were not new: we were just basically combining two existing ideas from survey sampling: regression […]