skip to main content


Title: Multiple Ideal Points: Revealed Preferences in Different Domains
Abstract We extend classical ideal point estimation to allow voters to have different preferences when voting in different domains—for example, when voting on agricultural policy than when voting on defense policy. Our scaling procedure results in estimated ideal points on a common scale. As a result, we are able to directly compare a member’s revealed preferences across different domains of voting (different sets of motions) to assess if, for example, a member votes more conservatively on agriculture motions than on defense. In doing so, we are able to assess the extent to which voting behavior of an individual voter is consistent with a uni-dimensional spatial model—if a member has the same preferences in all domains. The key novelty is to estimate rather than assume the identity of “stayers”—voters whose revealed preference is constant across votes. Our approach offers methodology for investigating the relationship between the basic space and issue space in legislative voting (Poole 2007). There are several methodological advantages to our approach. First, our model allows for testing sharp hypotheses. Second, the methodology developed can be understood as a kind of partial-pooling model for item response theory scaling, resulting in less uncertainty of estimates. Related, our estimation method provides a principled and unified approach to the issue of “granularity” (i.e., the level of aggregation) in the analysis of roll-call data (Crespin and Rohde 2010; Roberts et al. 2016). We illustrate the model by estimating U.S. House of Representatives members’ revealed preferences in different policy domains, and identify several other potential applications of the model including: studying the relationship between committee and floor voting behavior; and investigating constituency influence and representation.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1740850 2114729 1738053
NSF-PAR ID:
10301106
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Political Analysis
Volume:
29
Issue:
2
ISSN:
1047-1987
Page Range / eLocation ID:
139 to 166
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    We study liquid democracy, a collective decision making paradigm that allows voters to transitively delegate their votes, through an algorithmic lens. In our model, there are two alternatives, one correct and one incorrect, and we are interested in the probability that the majority opinion is correct. Our main question is whether there exist delegation mechanisms that are guaranteed to outperform direct voting, in the sense of being always at least as likely, and sometimes more likely, to make a correct decision. Even though we assume that voters can only delegate their votes to better-informed voters, we show that local delegation mechanisms, which only take the local neighborhood of each voter as input (and, arguably, capture the spirit of liquid democracy), cannot provide the foregoing guarantee. By contrast, we design a non-local delegation mechanism that does provably outperform direct voting under mild assumptions about voters. 
    more » « less
  2. \ (Ed.)
    Fluid (or liquid) democracy is a voting paradigm that allows voters to choose between directly voting and transitively delegating their votes to other voters. While fluid democracy has been viewed as a system that can combine the best aspects of direct and representative democracy, it can also result in situations where few voters amass a large amount of influence. To analyze the impact of this shortcoming, we consider what has been called an epistemic setting, where voters decide on a binary issue for which there is a ground truth. Previous work has shown that under certain assumptions on the delegation mechanism, the concentration of power is so severe that fluid democracy is less likely to identify the ground truth than direct voting. We examine different, arguably more realistic, classes of mechanisms, and prove they behave well by ensuring that (with high probability) there is a limit on concentration of power. Our proofs demonstrate that delegations can be treated as stochastic processes and that they can be compared to well-known processes from the literature — such as preferential attachment and multi-types branching process—that are sufficiently bounded for our purposes. Our results suggest that the concerns raised about fluid democracy can be overcome, thereby bolstering the case for this emerging paradigm. 
    more » « less
  3. Instant runoff voting (IRV) is an increasingly-popular alternative to traditional plurality voting in which voters submit rankings over the candidates rather than single votes. In practice, elections using IRV often restrict the ballot length, the number of candidates a voter is allowed to rank on their ballot. We theoretically and empirically analyze how ballot length can influence the outcome of an election, given fixed voter preferences. We show that there exist preference profiles over k candidates such that up to k-1 different candidates win at different ballot lengths. We derive exact lower bounds on the number of voters required for such profiles and provide a construction matching the lower bound for unrestricted voter preferences. Additionally, we characterize which sequences of winners are possible over ballot lengths and provide explicit profile constructions achieving any feasible winner sequence. We also examine how classic preference restrictions influence our results—for instance, single-peakedness makes k-1 different winners impossible but still allows at least Ω(√k). Finally, we analyze a collection of 168 real-world elections, where we truncate rankings to simulate shorter ballots. We find that shorter ballots could have changed the outcome in one quarter of these elections. Our results highlight ballot length as a consequential degree of freedom in the design of IRV elections. 
    more » « less
  4. Summary

    Ideal point estimation is an important tool to study legislative and judicial voting behaviours. We propose a hierarchical ideal point estimation framework that directly models complex voting behaviours on the basis of the characteristics of the political actors and the votes that they cast. Through simulations and empirical examples we show that this framework holds good promise for resolving many unsettled issues, such as the multi-dimensional aspects of ideology, and the effects of political parties. As a companion to this paper, we offer an easy-to-use R package that implements the methods discussed.

     
    more » « less
  5. We solve a long-standing challenge to the integrity of votes cast without the supervision of a voting booth: ``{\it improper influence},'' which typically refers to any combination of vote buying and voter coercion. Our approach allows each voter, or their trusted agents (which we call ``{\it hedgehogs}''), to {\it ``nullify''} (effectively cancel) their vote in a way that is unstoppable, irrevocable, and forever unattributable to the voter. In particular, our approach enhances security of online, remote, public-sector elections, for which there is a growing need and the threat of improper influence is most acute. We introduce the new approach, give detailed cryptographic protocols, show how it can be applied to several voting settings, and describe our implementation. The protocols compose a full voting system, which we call {\it {\votexx}}, including registration, voting, nullification, and tallying---using an anonymous communication system for registration, vote casting, and other communication in the system. We demonstrate how the technique can be applied to known systems, including where ballots can be mailed to voters and voters use codes on the ballot to cast their votes online. In comparison with previous proposals, our system makes fewer assumptions and protects against a strong adversary who learns all of the voter's keys. In {\votexx}, each voter has two public-private key pairs. Without revealing their private keys, each voter registers their public keys with the election authority. Each voter may share their keys with one or more hedgehogs. During nullification, the voter, or one or more of their hedgehogs, can interact through the anonymous communication system to nullify a vote by proving knowledge of one of the voter's private keys via a zero-knowledge proof without revealing the private key. We describe a fully decentralizable implementation of {\votexx}, including its public bulletin board, which could be implemented on a blockchain. 
    more » « less