Research papers from policy school

Today I went digging through my hard drive for a research paper I wrote in policy school that used structural equations modeling to analyze the 2004 United States presidential election.  Sadly, it seems I lost the final version and only have a rough draft.  I did, however, find another research paper on population changes in Wayne and Oakland counties (roughly, Detroit and its wealthier suburbs.)


You might find it interesting if you like Detroit or pretty choropleths:choro

Some mixed, sort-of tooting my own horn: I independently discovered one of the most important urban trends in the United States – the dispersal of poor, urban blacks to inner ring suburbs, which in many ways laid the ground for the recent conflict in Ferguson.  Of course, by that time, the professionals had already discovered it.

I also found, in retrospect, absolutely no evidence for gentrification in Detroit from 1990-2000; at the time I worded my conclusion a bit more weakly, probably because no one I talked to wanted to hear this conclusion.  Fortunately, I’m coming to care less what others think in my old age.  Also in retrospect, the most likely cause of the changes I observed is the Third Great Migration.

I guess I’ll take a stab at explaining the lost structural equations modeling paper as well.

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Sanders versus Clinton supporters in the American National Election Studies data

Were it not for Trump, the great drama of the 2016 election would have been the primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  Sanders generally fit the mold of a “leftist protest candidate”, but was far more successful than previous such candidates have been.  In this post, I will examine the 2016 American National Election Studies data, hoping to find clues that explain why.

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Obama/Trump voters in the National Election Studies data, Part 4


I conducted three analyses and found that:

  1. There were a surprisingly large number of Obama/Trump voters, and with some exceptions they matched the media portrait – white, working class, low income, older, and Midwestern.
  2. These voters probably chose Trump based on racially loaded policy issues; in particular, “law and order” issues related to fear of criminal violence.
  3.  These voters held economically populist views on a number of issues, even if those views did not drive their votes in the 2016 election.  However, their economic views on most issues were at least slightly to the right of the views of Obama/Clinton voters.

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Obama/Trump voters in the American National Election Studies data, Part 3

Many Democrats have wondered whether economic populism might help win the support of white working class Trump voters.  We saw in Part 2 that economic populism didn’t seem to play much of a role for Obama/Trump voters in the 2016 election; however, it’s still possible that in a future election, focused on different issues, that approach might work.  My third analysis explores that question.  Note that as per previous analyses, I restricted this sample to white voters.

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Obama/Trump voters in the American National Election Studies data, Part 2

Multiple regression analysis is a technique that measures correlations between variables, but adjusts things so that each variable’s influence is shown “all other things being equal.” Let’s imagine that Trump voters tend to be against both abortion and immigration, and most voters who are against abortion are also against immigration. But the few people who are fine with abortion and against immigration still tended to vote for Trump, and those who are against abortion and fine with immigration tended to vote for Clinton. In that case, multiple regression analysis will show a strong association between views on immigration and Trump voting, but only a weak relationship between views on abortion and Trump voting; one might reasonably guess in this case that immigration mattered more to voters than abortion did.

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Obama/Trump voters in the American National Election Studies data, Part 1

We’ve all had several months to make up our minds about whether Trump voters are racist or not, and one might think that there’s nothing more to be said on the topic.  But the American National Election Studies (ANES) group recently released its 2016 data file – the gold standard of election surveys in the United States, with data on thousands of subjects who answered hundreds of questions about political topics, including voting behavior.

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