ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance

Public Opinion and Electoral Politics in an Era of Political Discontent 3

Session Organisers Dr Roula Nezi (GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos (University of Surrey)
TimeFriday 19th July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room D26

Over the past nine years the European Union has faced a series of social and political challenges that affected citizens’ political behaviour, political attitudes, and party systems. The European Union in particular, but also non-EU member states, confronted a series of events such as the economic crisis and the refugee crisis, which, coupled with the prominence of austerity politics, have given rise to unpredicted political and electoral outcomes such as the rise of populist parties - both from the right and the left of the ideological spectrum - the rise of authoritarian politics, the rise of political forces questioning the future of European integration as well as the overhaul of traditional parties.

These phenomena give rise to important questions for scholars working in the area of public opinion and elections. Can the existing theories of electoral choice explain the surprising electoral outcomes witnessed in many countries?  What is the role of emotions in political behaviour? Are the recent electoral shocks a result of a crisis of confidence and trust facing mainstream political parties and the rising disconnect of citizens? Is the growing support for populist parties rooted in austerity politics or is based on changes in peoples’ values and emotions?

This panel welcomes papers on a wide range of topics related to public opinion, elections, voting behaviour, and election forecasting such as:

voter turn out
political participation and pathways to engagement 
vote for populist parties
authoritarian attitudes and values
emotions and appraisals

We welcome papers using single case studies but we especially encourage comparative/longitudinal studies. Proposals should encourage the conference’s main theme “survey research in the changing data environment”. We also welcome papers that propose new theoretical approaches in the study of public opinion and elections and are empirically or methodologically innovative.

Keywords: public opinion, electoral politics, political participation, values, survey research

Out of the Dark - Measuring Modern Slavery through the Gallup World Poll

Dr Pablo Diego-Rosell (The Gallup Organization) - Presenting Author
Ms Jacqueline Joudo Larsen (The Walk Free Foundation)

The history of slavery dates back to the emergence of the first civilization and its measurement was a far less elusive endeavour than it is now. However once it became illegal, reliable estimates of slavery ceased to exist. Yet slavery remains, with its modern incarnation relying on threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power and deception rather than the exercise of property rights. In 2012, the Walk Free Foundation was established to end modern slavery and as a first step sought to estimate the extent of the problem.

Since 2014, Gallup and Walk Free have implemented a survey module on modern slavery in a total of 48 countries through the Gallup World Poll. In addition to the modern slavery module, all respondents have data on an extensive set of items collected as part of the World Poll’s core questionnaire. Using these individual-level predictors, along with external country-level covariates of modern slavery, Gallup and Walk Free developed an extrapolation methodology to estimate global risk of modern slavery in 148 countries.

Our research identifies individual-level risk factors such as age, gender, employment status, feelings about household income, life evaluation scores, and negative experienced affect, as well as country-level vulnerability factors. We demonstrate the use of hierarchical Bayesian methods to estimate the risk of modern slavery at the country level. Our research also identifies some data limitations, with an ongoing need for large stratified samples.

Is He Serious? American Response to The U.S. Presidents' Attacks on the Media

Ms Jill Darling (University of Southern California) - Presenting Author
Dr Margaret Gatz (University of Southern California)

In the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, Donald Trump stepped up attacks on some members of the media and stated that he alone should be viewed as the only trustworthy source of information. To what extent did the American public agree? Did Americans see Trump’s repeated assertions that the press is a dangerous enemy as Presidential venting or as a serious warning? Did they view Trump’s attacks on the press as fundamentally harmless, or potentially dangerous? Should the government step in to limit press freedoms? Trust in “the media” has been declining, particularly among Republicans (Swift, 2016). In an era of politically polarized media, however, to what extent is the public’s growing distrust confined to media sources perceived as untrustworthy or oppositional to their own beliefs? Finally, how do people feel when they watch, read, or listen to coverage of Donald Trump from sources they trust?

To find out, we analyzed a national sample of 4,286 U.S. adults, members of the USC Center for Economic and Social Research’s probability-based Understanding America Study internet panel who had answered survey questions on these topics in the weeks before the 2018 midterm election.

While Americans across the political spectrum rejected government restrictions on the press, at the same time and in ways that reflect our nation’s fragmentation, they divided over the sincerity and impact, even the potentially dangerous impact, of President Trump’s assault on the press. How Americans feel when watching the news depends greatly on whether they consume a wide range of sources of information or limit themselves to one or two. Americans who limit their trust to the President often feel satisfied, hopeful, and pleased. Most other Americans experience negative emotions more often than positive. We present these findings and their impact on voting decisions in the 2018 midterm elections.

Modes of Offline and Online Political Participation: Methodological Challenges and Empirical Evidence from the Greek Case

Dr Stefania Kalogeraki (University of Crete) - Presenting Author

Political participation is considered to be one of the cornerstones of a well-functioning democracy. Whilst past research indicates the decline in citizens’ conventional forms of political participation in Western societies, recent studies advocate that the nature of political engagement has been transforming due to the development of new information and communication technologies and specifically the internet which offers new opportunities for citizens’ involvement online. Despite the critical importance of these recent transformations, there are some important methodological challenges in exploring citizens’ political engagement. The paper has a two-fold rationale; a) to discuss the methodological issues associated with different modes of citizens’ online and offline political participation and b) to provide some empirical evidence on political participation specifically in Greece. With respect to the former, one of the major challenges is primarily associated with the lack of consensus on the conceptualization and measurement of online and offline political participation and the potential differences between different modes of online (e.g. e-discussion, e-petition etc) and offline political involvement (e.g. conventional, unconventional). Using Greek data collected during 2018 within the EU-funded project EURYKA the findings shed some empirical light on the divergences in the conclusions drawn with respect to the individual level attributes (such as socio-demographic, political attitudes, motivations, and knowledge etc) when different measurements of offline and online political participation indicators are applied. The paper underpins the necessity of tackling specific methodological issues in order to acquire a thorough understanding in political participation, specifically in times of great transformations in citizens’ engagement with democratic life.

Preferences for Right-Wing Populist Parties - Development and Test of an Integrative Theoretical Model

Mr Manuel Kleinert (Institute of Sociology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen) - Presenting Author

Perhaps one of the most interesting challenges for survey-based research on citizens’ voting intentions for right-wing populist parties (RPP) is the development and test of theoretical models aiming to integrate propositions typically considered in isolation. Using the case of German citizens’ preferences for the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), this study attempts to address this task. To achieve this aim, we selectively focus on three well-known theoretical frameworks: Central to the (a) deprivation approach is the idea that subjective perceived economic disadvantage is associated with voting intentions for RPPs. Another branch of research highlights the importance of (b) anti-immigrant prejudice as source of RPP. Finally, the literature also cites generalized (c) political dissatisfaction as the central motivation for citizens’ RRP voting intentions. Where the present study differs from previous work is in modeling the mediating and moderating relations of these factors known to shape citizens’ RPP voting intentions. In short, using multiple waves of cross-sectional survey from different survey research programs (e.g. the German Longitudinal Election Study, Politbarometer) the results underline the key role of political dissatisfaction as a moderator of the indirect influence exerted by economic disadvantage via anti-immigration attitudes on RPP voting intentions.