27th Annual "Polmeth"

It’s been a busy summer, or I would have written about this before. But in July, the University of Iowa hosted the 27th Annual Summer Meeting of the Society for Political Methodology. The complete conference program is here, and a number of the papers and presentations might be of interest to readers.

The paper that might be of most interest to our readers was presented by Walter Mebane, “Election Fraud or Strategic Voting? Can Second-digit Tests Tell the Difference?” Here’s the abstract to Mebane’s paper:

I simulate a mixture process that generates individual preferences that, when
aggregated into precincts, have counts whose second significant digits approximately
satisfy Benford’s Law. By deriving sincere, strategic, gerrymandered and coerced
votes from these preferences under a plurality voting rule, I find that tests based on
the second digits of the precinct counts are sensitive to differences in how the counts
are derived. The tests can sometimes distinguish coercion from strategic voting and
gerrymanders. The tests may be able to distinguish strategic voting according to a
party balancing logic from strategic voting due purely to wasted-vote logic, and
strategic from nonstrategic voting. These simulation findings are supported by data
from federal and state elections in the United States during the 1980s and 2000s.