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Optimal choice of electoral preference data

By Cees van der Eijk and Martin Kroh


Electoral researchers are so much accustomed to analyzing the choice of the single most preferred party as the left-hand side variable of their models of electoral behavior that they often ignore revealed preference data. Drawing on\ud random utility theory, their models predict electoral behavior at the extensive margin of choice. Since the seminal work of Luce and others on individual choice behavior, however, many social science disciplines (consumer research, labor market research, travel demand, etc.) have extended their inventory of observed preference data with, for instance, multiple paired comparisons,\ud complete or incomplete rankings, and multiple ratings. Eliciting (voter) preferences using these procedures and applying appropriate choice models is known to considerably increase the efficiency of estimates of causal factors in\ud models of (electoral) behavior. In this paper, we demonstrate the efficiency gain when adding additional preference information to first preferences, up to full\ud ranking data. We do so for multi-party systems of different sizes. We use simulation studies as well as empirical data from the 1972 German election study. Comparing the practical considerations for using ranking and single\ud preference data results in suggestions for choice of measurement instruments in different multi-candidate and multi-party settings

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