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Multiple Ideal Points: Revealed Preferences in Different Domains

Moser, Scott; Rodríguez, Abel; Lofland, Chelsea L.


Scott Moser

Abel Rodríguez

Chelsea L. Lofland


We extend classical ideal point estimation to allow voters to have different preferences when voting in different domains – for example when voting on agricultural policy than when voting on defense policy. Our scaling procedure results in estimated ideal points on a common scale. As a result, we are able to directly compare a member’s revealed preferences across different domains of voting (different sets of motions) to assess if, for example, a member votes more conservatively on agriculture motions than on defense. In doing so we are able to assess the extent to which voting behavior of an individual voter is consistent with a uni-dimensional spatial model – if a member has the same preferences in all domains. The key novelty is to estimate rather than assume the identity of “stayers” – voters whose revealed preference is constant across votes. Our approach offers methodology for investigating the relationship between the basic space and issue space in legislative voting (Poole, 2007). There are several methodological advantages to our approach. First, our model allows for testing sharp-hypotheses. Second, the methodology developed can be understood as a kind of partial-pooling model for IRT scaling, resulting in less uncertainty of estimates. Related, our estimation method provides a principled and unified approach to the issue of “granulatity” (i.e. the level of aggregation) in the analysis of roll-call data (Crespin & Rohde, 2010; Roberts, Smith, & Haptonstahl, 2016). We illustrate the model by estimating U.S. House of Representatives members’ revealed preferences in different policy domains, and identify several other potential applications of the model including: studying the relationship between committee and floor voting behavior; and investigating constituency influence and representation.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Political Analysis
Print ISSN 1047-1987
Electronic ISSN 1476-4989
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Moser, S., Rodríguez, A., & Lofland, C. L. (in press). Multiple Ideal Points: Revealed Preferences in Different Domains. Political Analysis,