Skip to main content
×
Home

Extracting Policy Positions from Political Texts Using Words as Data

  • MICHAEL LAVER (a1), KENNETH BENOIT (a2) and JOHN GARRY (a3)
Abstract

We present a new way of extracting policy positions from political texts that treats texts not as discourses to be understood and interpreted but rather, as data in the form of words. We compare this approach to previous methods of text analysis and use it to replicate published estimates of the policy positions of political parties in Britain and Ireland, on both economic and social policy dimensions. We “export” the method to a non-English-language environment, analyzing the policy positions of German parties, including the PDS as it entered the former West German party system. Finally, we extend its application beyond the analysis of party manifestos, to the estimation of political positions from legislative speeches. Our “language-blind” word scoring technique successfully replicates published policy estimates without the substantial costs of time and labor that these require. Furthermore, unlike in any previous method for extracting policy positions from political texts, we provide uncertainty measures for our estimates, allowing analysts to make informed judgments of the extent to which differences between two estimated policy positions can be viewed as significant or merely as products of measurement error.We thank Raj Chari, Gary King, Michael McDonald, Gail McElroy, and three anonymous reviewers for comments on drafts of this paper.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Adams J. 2001 A Theory of Spatial Competition with Biased Voters: Party Policies Viewed Temporally and Comparatively British Journal of Political Science 31 121-58
Bara Judith 2001 Tracking Estimates of Public Opinion and Party Policy Intentions in Britain and the USA Estimating the Policy Positions of Political Actors Michael Laver London Routledge 217–36
Baron David 1991 A Spatial Bargaining Theory of Government Formation in Parliamentary Systems American Political Science Review 85 137-64
Baron David 1993 Government Formation and Endogenous Parties American Political Science Review 87 34 47
Benoit Kenneth Michael Laver Nd 2002 Estimating Irish Party Positions Using Computer Wordscoring: The 2002 Elections Irish Political Studies
Blais A. D. Blake S. Dion 1993 Do Parties Make a Difference—Parties and the Size of Government in Liberal Democracies American Journal of Political Science 37 40 62
Budge Ian Denis Farlie 1977 Voting and Party Competition London Wiley
Budge Ian Hans-Dieter Klingemann Andrea Volkens Judith Bara Eric Tannenbaum Fording with Richard Derek Hearl Kim Hee Min Michael McDonald Silvia Mendes 2001 Mapping Policy Preferences: Parties, Electors and Governments, 1945–1998; Estimates for Parties, Electors and Governments, 1945–1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Budge Ian David Robertson Derek Hearl 1987 Ideology, Strategy and Party Change: Spatial Analyses of Post-War Election Programmes in 19 Democracies Cambridge Cambridge University Press
Castles Peter Mair 1984 Left-Right Political Scales: Some Expert Judgments European Journal of Political Research 12 83 88
de Vries Miranda Daniela Giannetti Lucy Mansergh 2001 Estimating Policy Positions from the Computer Coding of Political Texts: Results from Italy, The Netherlands and Ireland Estimating the Policy Positions of Political Actors Michael Laver London Routledge 193–216
Gabel Matthew John Huber 2000 Putting Parties in Their Place: Inferring Party Left-Right Ideological Positions from Party Manifesto Data American Journal of Political Science 44 94 103
Kim H. M. Fording R. C. 1998 Voter Ideology in Western Democracies, 1946–1989 European Journal of Political Research 33 73 97
Kitchshelt Herbert 1994 The Transformation of European Social Democracy Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
Kleinnijenhuis Jan Paul Pennings 2001 Measurement of Party Positions on the Basis of Party Programmes, Media Coverage and Voter Perceptions Estimating the Policy Positions of Political Actors Michael Laver London Routledge 161–82
Klingemann Hans-Dieter Richard Hofferbert Ian Budge Keman with Hans Torbjorn Bergman Fran¸ois P´etry Kaare Strom 1994 Parties, Policies and Democracy Boulder, CO Westview Press
Laver Michael 1994 Party Policy and Cabinet Portfolios in Ireland 1992: Results from an Expert Survey Irish Political Studies 9 157-64
Laver Michael 1998a Party Policy in Britain, 1997: Results from an Expert Survey Political Studies 46 336-47
Laver Michael 1998b Party Policy in Ireland, 1997: Results from an Expert Survey Irish Political Studies 13 159-71
Laver Michael Kenneth Benoit 2002 Locating TDs in Policy Spaces: Wordscoring D´ail Speeches Irish Political Studies 17 Summer 59 73
Laver Michael Ian Budge 1992 Party Policy and Government Coalitions London Macmillan
Laver Michael John Garry 2000 Estimating Policy Positions from Political Texts American Journal of Political Science 44 619-34
Laver Michael Hunt William Ben 1992 Policy and Party Competition London Routledge
Laver Michael Norman Schofield 1998 Multiparty Government: The Politics of Coalition in Europe Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press
McDonald Michael D. Mendes Silvia M. 2001 The Policy Space of Party Manifestos Estimating the Policy Positions of Political Actors Michael Laver London Routledge
Muller Wolfgang Kaare Strom 2000 Coalition Governments in Western Europe Oxford Oxford University Press
Schofield N. R Parks 2000 Nash Equilibrium in a Spatial Model of Coalition Bargaining Mathematical Social Science 39 133-74
Volkens Andrea 2001 Manifesto Research Since 1979: From Reliability to Validity Estimating the Policy Positions of Political Actors Michael Laver London Routledge
Warwick P. 1994 Government Survival in Parliamentary Democracies Cambridge Cambridge University Press
Warwick Paul 2001 Coalition Policy in Parliamentary Democracies—Who Gets How Much and Why Comparative Political Studies 34 1212-36
Warwick Paul 2002 Toward a Common Dimensionality in West European Policy Spaces Party Politics 8 101-22
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 28
Total number of PDF views: 445 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1207 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.