Can the wisdom of the crowd predict a second EU referendum?

Published on the LSE Europp blog on 14 March 2019

The rejection of Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal on 12 March has given fresh impetus to those campaigning for a second EU referendum. But what are the odds that the outcome would differ from the 2016 referendum? If British voters were to be asked to cast another vote, would the Remain side gain a majority, as most supporters of a second referendum hope?

The standard way to answer these questions would be to aggregate individual, independent voting preferences, as reported in opinion polls. Yet, the recent experiences of opinion polling during the campaigns for the 2015 UK general election and the Brexit referendum have shown that this method might not necessarily yield accurate results. An alternative way is to rely on the so called ‘wisdom of the crowd’, by asking citizens themselves what the outcome of an election would be. These citizen forecasts focus on individual perceptions about others’ voting behaviour, with those perceptions averaged to form a forecast of an election result.

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“Hugs, not gunshots”: How can AMLO convince Mexicans of a new approach to security?

Published on Political Violence @ a Glance on 18 October 2018

Guest post by Juan Masullo and Davide Morisi.

The same night Mexico’s President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO), won the election, he announced a radical shift in the country’s “war on drugs”. “The failed crime and violence strategy will change,” he proclaimed, referring to the strategy of militarized public security initiated by President Calderón in 2006. Claiming that Mexico needs abrazos no balazos (hugs, not gunshots), AMLO made clear his intention to stop the militarized war on drugs and hand the security job back to professionally trained police. But can he convince Mexicans that they will be more secure once the military is taken off the streets?

Moving away from a heavy-handed, military-first approach is no easy task. Important sectors of the Federal Government continue to argue that militarization has been effective, and in December of last year the Congress approved a bill that “institutionalizes” the role of the army in fighting organized crime. Moreover, while notable civil society organizations such as Mexico United Against Delinquency openly oppose militarization, the army is still one of the country’s most trusted institutions. According to 2017 LAPOP data, around two thirds of Mexicans highly trust the armed forces.

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Workshop on political knowledge and information processing

On 24 and 25 November, Carolina Plescia and I organized a workshop sponsored by the Vienna Center for Electoral Research (VieCER). The workshop, entitled “Political knowledge and information processing: How do citizens learn about politics and what moderates information-processing strategies?”, has been a great opportunity to discuss cutting-edge research with several academics from across Europe. Around 15 scholars presented and discussed their latest work on topics related to political knowledge, elite influence, misinformation, and information processing across different political domains.

The complete programme is available here.

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New position at University of Vienna

On 1 September I started a new position as Assistant Professor (postdoc) at the Department of Government at the University of Vienna. It’s an exciting opportunity to join a fantastic group of researchers, and it will allow me to pursue my research agenda in the field of political behaviour and public opinion. The Department of Government runs the Austrian National Election Study (AUTNES), which is a high-quality, comprehensive source of data related to national elections in Austria.

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In Edinburgh at ISPP

From 29 June to 2 July I went to Edinburgh to attend the annual meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP). It’s been a fantastic chance to listen to renowned scholars, meet great colleagues, and present some of my recent work on motivated reasoning and referendum campaigns.

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Workshop on text analysis at the LSE

On 24 and 25 April I was at the LSE for a two-day workshop on text analysis organized and taught by Ken Benoit: https://github.com/kbenoit/ITAUR. The workshop covered basic text-related data processing using R, mostly relying on the quanteda package (https://github.com/kbenoit/quanteda) for the quantitative analysis of textual data .

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In Frankfurt debating direct democracy

On 6 April I was invited to a workshop on direct democracy organized by Goethe University of Frankfurt. The event, titled “Menace or Blessing? The Role of Direct Democracy in the Process of Political Representation”, featured several interesting presentations and discussions on the role of direct democracy in different countries. It gave me the chance to present some preliminary findings of our study on the recent Italian constitutional referendum.

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