The Tough Decision to Remove Political Knowledge from the CSES Module 5

The Tough Decision to Remove Political Knowledge from the CSES Module 5
By Elisabeth Gidengil and Elizabeth Zechmeister

Political information questions will be absent from the CSES core module for the first time with the 5th installment of the CSES module. The CSES Planning Committee’s Political Knowledge Subcommittee[1] reached this decision despite shared agreement that political knowledge is a venerated workhorse in the field of voter choice. Differences exist among those high and low in political knowledge in numerous domains, such as economic voting behavior and the use of heuristic aids in voting decisions (though exceptions exist). Given the significance of this concept to scholars of political behavior, voting, and elections, we have some explaining to do.

Evaluation of Past CSES Political Knowledge Batteries

The first task of the Political Knowledge Subcommittee was to evaluate the effectiveness of past political knowledge modules as comparative indicators of political sophistication in the CSES project. We first considered the degree to which previous modules had resulted in sufficient variation in scores within countries to allow for meaningful analysis. Delli Carpini and Keeter (1993) recommend that the level of difficulty vary between 30% and 70% correct answers on the items to be included in a political knowledge index in order to achieve sufficient differentiation.

The first three CSES modules sought to achieve adequate variation by instructing local investigators to select one question that two thirds would answer correctly, one question that half would answer correctly and one question that only one third would answer correctly. This approach was deemed a failure (Elff 2009). In module 2, for example, only seven countries achieved the desired distribution of correct answers. Continue reading “The Tough Decision to Remove Political Knowledge from the CSES Module 5”

Announcing CSES Module 5

Announcing CSES Module 5:
Democracy Divided? People, Politicians and the Politics of Populism
Post prepared by John Aldrich, David Howell, and Stephen Quinlan

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project is delighted to announce the launch of its fifth module, designed on the theme of Democracy Divided? People, Politicians and the Politics of Populism.  The CSES Module 5 questionnaire will be included in national post-election surveys around the world during the years 2016 through 2021.

CSES Module 5 was discussed, revised, and approved during a Plenary Session of CSES collaborators which was held in August 2016 in Philadelphia, United States, just before the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.  The Plenary Session was attended by 44 persons representing 36 different national election studies and included a number of presentations followed by intensive discussion. Each subcommittee of the Planning Committee presented their work, and these are noted below. The Plenary included presentations on a CSES bibliography and on pretesting of the proposed (and subsequently approved) new module, each of which were conducted by the CSES Secretariat.

Group Photo from Plenary Session
Group Photo from 2016 Plenary Session (Philadelphia, United States)

Continue reading “Announcing CSES Module 5”