It is commonly believed by pundits and political elites that higher turnout favors Democratic candidates, but the extant research is inconsistent in finding this effect. The purpose of this article is to provide scholars with a methodology for assessing the likely effects of turnout on an election outcome using simulations based on survey data. By varying simulated turnout rates for five U.S. elections from 1960 to 2000, we observe that Democratic advantages from higher turnout (and Republican advantages from lower turnout) have steadily ebbed since 1960, corresponding to the erosion of class cleavages in U.S. elections.
Welcome to the special issue of Political Analysis dedicated to Bayesian methods. We hope that you enjoy the varied and interesting contributions herein featuring Bayesian statistical methods. For many people in empirical political science, Bayesian statistics seems like a weird offshoot of probability that surfaces occasionally in journals and books but does not occupy a particularly central role. This perception appears to be changing. In fact, it appears to be changing quite rapidly. The purpose of this issue is to support and accelerate this momentum by further demonstrating the full flexibility and power of Bayesian methodology.
In this article, we develop and make available measures of public ideology in 2010 for the 50 American states, 435 congressional districts, and state legislative districts. We do this using the geospatial statistical technique of Bayesian universal kriging, which uses the locations of survey respondents, as well as population covariate values, to predict ideology for simulated citizens in districts across the country. In doing this, we improve on past research that uses the kriging technique for forecasting public opinion by incorporating Alaska and Hawaii, making the important distinction between ZIP codes and ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, and introducing more precise data from the 2010 Census. We show that our estimates of ideology at the state, congressional district, and state legislative district levels appropriately predict the ideology of legislators elected from these districts, serving as an external validity check.