Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Meet the middle

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  • BenWilson,

    Wicked, thanks for that David. I didn't spot any labels that got mixed up, but good heads up. I'll keep an eye out for it. So far the variable names seem to be mnemonics for the labels I've got.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    So they are presumably Labour supporters, and got the axes wrong (ie left and right held no meaning for them).

    That was one hypothesis I mulled. I decided I'd leave it unmediated by my perceptions, and see if you got the same idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Can we categorise people in some other way ? For example :

    There's a very large number* of possibilities. Rob Salmond mentioned upthread what his method was. It's not crazy, but it does use National and Labour as the reference point and is thus, as Sacha comments, FPP flavoured. He mentions his method for centrists, and I presume left and right are the leftovers in each direction, although he doesn't actually say so.

    We've also got the respondent's own self rating of which party they are closest to. I think that might be useful for finding "Labourites" and "Nationalites", possibly more useful than what you suggest. This self rating is in two separate questions, just for more multi-dimensional confusion :-). One is "which are you close to". The other is "which are you closest to". I wonder how much trouble respondants who were not highly competent in English might have had seeing the difference here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    The rest are confused (or uncategorisable at least) ?

    Or maybe it's we who are confused? In this question, the entire thread hangs. Do we listen to them and find what they mean by left and right? Or decide what left and right means for them, and divide them into the confused and not confused, then left and right? Possibly throwing away half of our population in the process.

    Other possibilities: Data capture/entry error. Deliberately confused answers put in to frustrate the statistical process on purpose. Genuine belief that Labour is right because they're "feminazis" and National are left because they're "neoLIBERALs".

    I think we can only really progress by trying it as many ways as possible and seeing how it fits. I've also got another idea, but I'd like to surprise people with it, and it will take some time to get it out. Gut feeling is that good stats will mean that the small size of those "confused corner" clusters would mean they don't really affect the models.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    like you, I having trouble drawing any conclusions about it

    Well I kind of do have one conclusion. Self-evaluated centrists themselves see less political distinction between left and right. Tallies with the political science wisdom that they’re more influenced by valence issues than policy ones. Perceptions of honesty, competence, etc, are what distinguishes the parties for them. That’s a hypothesis at this point anyway. Not a new one. But one that perhaps the coplot I gave might enable the geek minded to actually see. Literally see, that is. With their eyes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I note there are more people who said they "Didn't manage to vote" and "voted Labour" than those that said they "Didn't manage to vote" and "voted National", but there were more people who "Chose not to vote" and "voted National" than "Chose not to vote" and "voted Labour"

    Conclusion: Don't read too much into the detail.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Attachment

    I've taken all of columns 162 to 170 (the where do you think parties fall on a left right spectrum and where do you fall) and run a PCA to extract the two most significant factors. I've also coloured it by who they voted for.

    Observations:
    1 - National voters have a pretty coherent view of where parties (and themselves) are on a left right spectrum. It is less important to other voters as there is less clustering.
    2 - I invite anyone who believes in a centre and a one dimensional scale to find it in this data of voter world views.

    intery <- dataset[,c(235,162:170)]
    intery$jpartyvote <- applylabels(intery$jpartyvote)
    intery[2:ncol(intery)] <- apply(intery[2:ncol(intery)],2, as.numeric)
    for(i in 2:ncol(intery)){
    x <- intery[,i]
    x[x == 99] <- NA
    intery[,i] <- x
    }
    intery <- intery[(complete.cases(intery)),]
    fillcol <- rep("grey", nrow(intery))
    fillcol[intery$jpartyvote == "Labour"] <- "red"
    fillcol[intery$jpartyvote == "National"] <- "blue"
    fillcol[intery$jpartyvote == "Green"] <- "green"
    fillcol[intery$jpartyvote == "NZ First"] <- "black"
    pca <- prcomp(intery[2:(ncol(intery))], scale = TRUE)
    plot(pca$x[,1], pca$x[,2], col=fillcol, cex=0.3, pch=19)

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Are you sure you aren't overthinking this, or that you've trolled by somebody with time on their hands and the rand() function?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    Nice. Very nice. Neatly illustrates the incoherence of the single dimensional view.

    Is grey everyone else beside the top 4 parties? Looks like it from the code :-)

    Can you plot the variable coefficient positions too? All 9 of them?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    This is my point. Actual voter position in a multiparty democracy is less a line through two points and more Jackson Pollock.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to BenWilson,

    I used grey for everyone else because they were small parties, there are irregularities in the variable labels of who people voted for so it was not always clear in the case of the minor parties what people had actually voted for, and I didn't want to overload the graph with colours.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Attachment

    Among those that voted National in 2008 and National in 2011, 17.5% of them do not know where Labour is in the spectrum of left to right.
    Among those that voted Labour in 2008 and Labour in 2011, 23.7% of them do not know where Labour is in the spectrum of left to right.
    Among those that voted Labour in 2008 and National in 2011, 23.8% of them do not know where Labour is in the spectrum of left to right.
    Among those that voted National in 2008 and Labour in 2011, 22.2% of them do not know where Labour is in the spectrum of left to right.

    Possibly, dyed-in-the-wool National voters are more likely to care about "the left" than anyone else.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of Labour among those that voted National in 2008 and National in 2011 that "knew" Labour's position was 3.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of Labour among those that voted Labour in 2008 and Labour in 2011 that "knew" Labour's position was 4.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of Labour among those that voted National in 2008 and Labour in 2011 that "knew" Labour's position was 4.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of Labour among those that voted Labour in 2008 and National in 2011 that "knew" Labour's position was 4.

    So the people attracted to Labour from National rated it a 4, and the people that left Labour for National rated it a 4 in terms of centralism. Anyone want to explain labour equal score for people coming and going in terms of the centre being attractive?

    Attached is the actual distribution of Labour ratings among those that were not "didn't know": red is labour to labour, blue is national to national, purple is national to labour, and blue and red dashed is labour to national

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Attachment

    Here are the matching figures for where National is

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of National among those that voted National in 2008 and National in 2011 that “knew” National's position was 8.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of National among those that voted Labour in 2008 and Labour in 2011 that “knew” National's position was 8.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of National among those that voted National in 2008 and Labour in 2011 that “knew” National's position was 7.

    The median rating (so the mythic median voters perception) of National among those that voted Labour in 2008 and National in 2011 that “knew” National's position was 7.

    Just to make the conclusion quite clear here people moving from Labour to National were doing so while thinking National was a greater distance from the centre As a non-political science person, I would suggest that this behaviour is incompatible with the idea median voter theory was actually important in New Zealand.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    people moving from Labour to National were doing so while thinking National was a greater distance from the centre

    I think we need to exercise care on how we judge perception of position. There's lots of skew for the party positions and the mode will always be an integer and the median is highly likely to be as well (it could only not be if there were an even number of individuals, and the exact center happened to be right on the boundary between two integer values). So the judgments are highly granular.

    What I'm saying here is that although the median is 5, I don't think that perfectly represents the center. The actual split point between two values could very close to either boundary, so it could be 5-but-almost-4, or 5-but-almost-6. Either case shows up as 5. Similarly for Labour and National's position. It's quite possible that Labour could show up as 4, National as 7, the center as 5, so that makes National look twice as far from the center. But if they're 7-but-almost-6, the center is 5-but-almost-6, and Labour is 4-but-almost-3, that in reality Labour is nearly 2 times further away from the center. If I use fractional values to represent "but almost", what I'm saying is that

    5-4 = 1, 7-5=2. So 7 is twice as far from 5 as 4
    But 5.99 - 4.01 = 1.98, 7.01 - 5.99 = 1.02. So 4.01 is nearly twice as far from 5.99 as 7.01.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    Using mean gets around the granularity. But you were talking about the median voter theorem, so the mean won't do for arguments about that. Perhaps a revised median? It would be nice when a median lies more than halfway along all the data points it is equal to that it could linearly scale up toward the value it would take if it straddled the jump to the next value. So if the data is integer and the median is 2, then the next possible value it could take is 2.5 if the split is between scores of 2 and 3. So if the split point was actually halfway between the center of the 2s and the edge of the 3s then the revised median would take the value 2.25. If it was nearly at the split, it would nearly take the value 2.5. Is such a measure sometime used when the values in data are few in count, but the population is large?

    I know this is not a true median and won't have the same mathematical properties. It's a compromise between median and mean without having the property the mean does of being dragged around by extreme positions. I think it captures the idea of the middle-most data point.

    Then again, the mean is easily calculated and because the range is limited, it could serve much the same purpose.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Yeah Nah. I agree there is not a lot of point in calculating it out to a fine level of detail. But it could just as much be Labour 4.4 round to 4, centre 4.5 round to 5, and National 8.4 round to 8, and National is actually 39 units further away.

    I suspect that because the census has value labels for 0 (left) 5 (centre) and 10 (right) people might have been given those as starting reference points. But even without those the evidence weighs in that people moving to National are more likely to have thought it further from the centre (with the exact amount being open to debate).

    My main reason for not wanting to calculate to much detail is not so much the granularity, it is the number of people that answered both that they didn't vote and answered which party they did vote for, which suggests an error rate that means not reading too much into the data.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    But it could just as much be Labour 4.4 round to 4, centre 4.5 round to 5, and National 8.4 round to 8, and National is actually 39 units further away.

    It could be...but in this actual case I think we got something along the lines of what I'm suggesting. The median self reported position is 5, but the revised median along the lines I'm suggesting is 5.41, which pushes the center 0.41 closer to National, and the same amount further away from Labour.

    I haven't done the same calculations for the positions of Labour and National under the breakdowns that you go through above yet. But you seem to be assuming people had an some kind of judgment about where the center is. I don't think it's totally obvious that they automatically judged that the center was 5.

    I don't think it's at all crazy to think that people in general might think that the political center in NZ is somewhat to the right. It's not a contradiction in terms, it's a simple observation that the National government was elected, something that most people are aware of.

    Again, it comes back to what does the center mean? Is it where people are, by their own judgment? Is it where people in general think everyone else is? Or is it 5, by definition, because that's how the survey was designed? Or is it relative to the Labour and National Party, as Rob defined it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    My main reason for not wanting to calculate to much detail is not so much the granularity, it is the number of people that answered both that they didn’t vote and answered which party they did vote for, which suggests an error rate that means not reading too much into the data.

    There's error. But the means and medians didn't seem very sensitive to whether I included or excluded the non-voters. Which suggests that the differences between the groups is not great. Perhaps I should do an ANOVA...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark,

    Keep the data coming guys.

    Some fascinating insights . I don't have SPSS so haven't had access to the NZES data (apart from photocopying a couple of chapters from Vowles' The New Electorall Politics a while back).

    Am I right in assuming that those respondents who didn't know where particular Parties (or where they themselves) were located on the Left-Right spectrum - were excluded from the data ? And, if so, do we know what proportion ?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Mr Mark,

    Am I right in assuming that those respondents who didn’t know where particular Parties (or where they themselves) were located on the Left-Right spectrum – were excluded from the data ?

    I excluded them from my positioning plots. I'm treating the left-right evaluations where they occur as numbers, rather than factors. This makes sense, otherwise talking about the median doesn't make sense. Since they're numbers the Don't Knows can't be plotted. Gimme a sec and I'll tell you the proportions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    While I'm grabbing that, note that David gave a breakdown of the don't knows by how they voted http://publicaddress.net/system/cafe/speaker-meet-the-middle/?p=346845#post346845above.

    I'll give overall totals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I found the questionnaire, 5 as centre was given to them

    http://www.nzssds.org.nz/system/files/2011+NZ+Election+Study+questionnaire.pdf

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Numbers for don't-know vs gave-answer, followed by proportion don't-know out of total
    Self-position 2370 588 19.9%
    Lab-position 660 2251 22.7%
    Nat-position 650 2252 22.5%

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to David Hood,

    So your answer is that the center was understood to be 5 when they answered the question? Seems fair enough. I'm still trying to think critically about your claim:

    Just to make the conclusion quite clear here people moving from Labour to National were doing so while thinking National was a greater distance from the centre As a non-political science person, I would suggest that this behaviour is incompatible with the idea median voter theory was actually important in New Zealand.

    I'm not sure that the median voter theory suggests that the median voter has to want what they perceive to be the middle value. It says that the outcome will be chosen by what they themselves want. If the median voter actually positions to the right, then a party further from the center could win them, under the theory.

    Which is why I'm agonizing over where the actual middle is. You're suggesting that because people who switched their vote from Labour "knew" that National was further to the right that the left-right-ness can't really be that important in their decision? But what if they themselves had also moved to the right, and saw themselves as to the right of center now, and National as closer to them?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Note: I'm not a big fan of this theory or anything. Just trying to be a bit careful about how I reject it. I'm not even sure I worry too much about rejecting it as a predictor of voting outcomes. I'm more concerned about supporting it as the most important part of an strategy aiming to win elections. Exactly how does one move to the center? How does a party change the perception of where it sits on the spectrum? What effect might attempting to alter position have on where the actual center is - it could also be a moving target. In all of these questions, we can't get far with data if we don't clarify how position is ascertained.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

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