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Comparing Strategies for Estimating Constituency Opinion from National Survey Samples*

  • Chris Hanretty, Benjamin E. Lauderdale and Nick Vivyan
Abstract

Political scientists interested in estimating how public opinion varies by constituency have developed several strategies for supplementing limited constituency survey data with additional sources of information. We present two evaluation studies in the previously unexamined context of British constituency-level opinion: an external validation study of party vote share in the 2010 general election and a cross-validation of opinion toward the European Union. We find that most of the gains over direct estimation come from the inclusion of constituency-level predictors, which are also the easiest source of additional information to incorporate. Individual-level predictors combined with post-stratification particularly improve estimates from unrepresentative samples, and geographic local smoothing can compensate for weak constituency-level predictors. We argue that these findings are likely to be representative of applications of these methods where the number of constituencies is large.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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*

Chris Hanretty is a Reader in Politics in the University of East Anglia, Earlham Road, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom (c.hanretty@uea.ac.uk). Benjamin E. Lauderdale is an Associate Professor in the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science, Columbia House, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom (b.e.lauderdale@lse.ac.uk). Nick Vivyan is a Lecturer in Quantitative Social Research in the Durham University, The Al-Qasimi Building, Elvet Hill Rd, Durham DH1 3TU, United Kingdom (nick.vivyan@durham.ac.uk). This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/K003666/1). The authors thank seminar audiences at the University of Vienna, the University of Nottingham, the London School of Economics, and Nuffield College for their comments. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which greatly improved the article. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.79.

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Political Science Research and Methods
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