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Measuring Knowledge of Parties’ Legislative Seat Shares*

  • Seonghui Lee, Agustina Haime and Randolph Stevenson

We use two original surveys (including survey experiments) conducted the week before the 2015 elections in the Britain and Denmark to explore the best method for measuring individuals’ knowledge of the partisan distribution of legislative seats in multi-party democracies. The complete lack of such questions in the corpus of survey research on multi-party democracies is a testament to the skepticism that many survey researchers have about the feasibility of such complex questions. However, our analysis, which is the first empirical test of this skepticism, reveals little evidence of respondents’ frustration or high levels of non-cooperation with these questions. Additionally, our survey experiments, which examine the usefulness of different question formats, make it clear that such questions should be framed in terms of the numbers of seats each party holds rather than shares or percentages of seats.

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Seonghui Lee (, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 7, Aarhus, Denmark. Agustina Haime (, Ph.D candidate and Randolph Stevenson (, Professor, Department of Political Science, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX.

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Converse, Jean M., and Presser, Stanley. 1986. Survey Questions: Handcrafting the Standardized Questionnaire. London: Sage Publications.
Duch, Raymond, Przepiorka, Wojtek, and Stevenson, Randolph. 2015. ‘Responsibility Attribution for Collective Decision Makers’. American Journal of Political Science 59(2):372389.
Fortunato, David, and Stevenson, Randolph T.. 2013. ‘Perceptions of Partisan Ideologies: The Effect of Coalition Participation’. American Journal of Political Science 57(2):459477.
Fortunato, David, and Stevenson, Randolph T.. 2015. ‘Heuristics and Coalition Expectations’. Unpublished manuscript, Rice University, Houston, TX.
Mondak, Jeffrey J. 2001. ‘Developing Valid Knowledge Scales’. American Journal of Political Science 45(1):224238.
Mondak, Jeffery J., and Creel Davis, Belinda. 2001. ‘Asked and Answered: Knowledge Levels When We Will Not Take “Don’t Know” for an Answer’. Political Behavior 23(3):199224.
Mondak, Jeffrey J., and Anderson, Mary R.. 2004. ‘The Knowledge Gap: A Reexamination of Gender-Based Differences in Political Knowledge’. Journal of Politics 66(2):492512.
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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
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Supplementary materials

Lee et al. Dataset



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