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Bias in Self-reported Voting and How it Distorts Turnout Models: Disentangling Nonresponse Bias and Overreporting Among Danish Voters

  • Jens Olav Dahlgaard (a1), Jonas Hedegaard Hansen (a2), Kasper M. Hansen (a3) and Yosef Bhatti (a4)

Abstract

Most nonexperimental studies of voter turnout rely on survey data. However, surveys overestimate turnout because of (1) nonresponse bias and (2) overreporting. We investigate this possibility using a rich dataset of Danish voters, which includes validated turnout indicators from administrative data for both respondents and nonrespondents, as well as respondents’ self-reported voting from the Danish National Election Studies. We show that both nonresponse bias and overreporting contribute significantly to overestimations of turnout. Further, we use covariates from the administrative data available for both respondents and nonrespondents to demonstrate that both factors also significantly bias the predictors of turnout. In our case, we find that nonresponse bias and overreporting masks a gender gap of two and a half percentage points in women’s favor as well as a gap of 25 percentage points in ethnic Danes’ favor compared with Danes of immigrant heritage.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Footnotes

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Authors’ note: This work was supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research (grant no. 12-124983). The paper builds on work previously published in Danish by the same authors (Bhatti et al.2017). We are grateful to Florian Foos, Mogens K. Justesen, Michael Goldfien, and seminar participants at Copenhagen Business School for comments and suggestions on previous versions of this paper. The authors are listed alphabetically by their first name. The Danish National Election Studies is freely available through the Danish National Archives. The Carlsberg Foundation financed the data collection for DNES 2015 (grant no. CF14-0137, Hansen and Stubager 2016). Replication materials for this paper are posted to the Dataverse of Political Analysis (Dahlgaard 2018). The microdata linked to the administrative data can unfortunately not be uploaded due to privacy concerns imposed by the data provider, Statistics Denmark.

Contributing Editor: Jeff Gill

Footnotes

References

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Bias in Self-reported Voting and How it Distorts Turnout Models: Disentangling Nonresponse Bias and Overreporting Among Danish Voters

  • Jens Olav Dahlgaard (a1), Jonas Hedegaard Hansen (a2), Kasper M. Hansen (a3) and Yosef Bhatti (a4)

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