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What Voting Advice Applications can teach us about Voters and Elections

Elections
Internet
Methods
Raluca Popp
University of Exeter
Susan Banducci
University of Exeter
Travis Coan
University of Exeter
Raluca Popp
University of Exeter
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Abstract

VAA sites generate rich sources of data, potentially allowing researchers to address a range of questions related to voting and political attitudes and behaviour. However, the representativeness of VAA samples is questioned because they are opt-in rather than samples selected through randomly generated process. In this paper, we make a case for using VAA generated data to analyse voting intentions. We find that with proper statistical adjustment, non-representative samples can be used to forecast election outcomes, offering similar results to national representative samples. Our analysis proceeds as follows: first, using multilevel regression and postratification, we demonstrate how to weight voluntary data obtained via a VAA to create a ‘representative’ sample. Second, to assess this technique, we employ opt-in sample from 2014 EUvox and official statistics data, compared against exit polls. Our results show that VAA samples are particularly useful in understanding vote preferences amongst supporters of small parties.