Ideology and interests : a hierarchical Bayesian approach to spatial party preferences
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This paper presents a spatial utility model of support for multiple political parties. The model includes a "valence" term, which I reparameterize to include both party competence and the voters' key sociodemographic concerns. The paper shows how this spatial utility model can be interpreted as a hierarchical model using data from the 2009 European Elections Study. I estimate this model via Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) using a block Gibbs sampler and show that the model can capture broad European-wide trends while allowing for significant amounts of heterogeneity. This approach, however, which assumes a normal dependent variable, is only able to partially reproduce the data generating process. I show that the data generating process can be reproduced more accurately with an ordered probit model. Finally, I discuss trade-offs between parsimony and descriptive richness and other practical challenges that may be encountered when v building models of party support and make recommendations for capturing the best of both approaches.