Methodology Pt. 3 (Voting Simulation)

Apr 22, 2019

After the ideology test, I ran a voting simulation. In order to do this, first I would select a real race that happened in the California midterms, indicate their party affiliation, and then I would create an issue platform for the two candidates.  I chose to run real races as opposed to cherry-picking candidates and running them against one another to create the most realistic voting scenario possible for the participants. I selected the races which I would use in my voting simulation based off a Washington Post election log, which indicated every house, senate, and gubernatorial election in the state. The Washington Post log would indicate which races were key races, which races were a flip, and by how many votes a candidate had won by. I tried to present only House races for my voting simulation but when I could not get enough suitable races for the simulation, I included candidates from the senate and gubernatorial races as well. With this information presented by the Washington Post, I researched every race and every candidate they had listed. If candidates were relatively close, but still distinguishable in their ideology, I would switch their party affiliations. This way, I would be able to determine whether or not the participant chose party affiliation over personal ideology based on how they voted for candidates with party switched party affiliation in the survey.  For example, take the race of Young Kim and Gil Cisneros. Cisneros is a Democrat, while Kim is a Republican, however, for the purposes of my survey, I indicated that Kim was a Democrat, while Cisneros was a Republican. If a participant that identified as a liberal Democrat chose to vote for Kim, this would indicate they were more willing to vote along party lines rather than their own ideology. In the voting simulation, I included a mix of candidates whose party affiliations were switched, and candidates whose party affiliations were not switched, as a control group. I randomly chose the races I used in the control group. I also chose to fully anonymize the candidates used in my voting simulation, so that I would not run the risk of participants being swayed by the demographic information of a candidate, or recognize the candidate from prior knowledge. In my pilot study, I ran into the issue of presenting the races in such an order that it would “lead” participants to choose party affiliation over their ideology every time, because all the races where party affiliation were switched were at the end of the survey, while all the races where party affiliation was not switched were placed at the beginning. In order to combat this issue, I made a randomized list of the races which I would run, and presented them in that order. Overall, I ran eight races. Four races had the party affiliations of the candidates switched.

I created the candidates’ issue platforms based off a 2018 Gallup poll on which issues voters determined were most important to them in the 2018 midterms, which I referenced earlier in making the ideology test. These issues pertained to Trump, immigration, healthcare, the environment, taxes, Brett Kavanaugh, and a wild card issue. I chose to include a wild card issue, as candidates may have a particular issue they especially advocate for that may not be represented on the national stage. I based the issue platforms off a variety of sources, which included public statements the candidates had issued, their websites, social media, and previous legislation they had voted on if they were an incumbent.

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