Christopher Carman, Fernando Mendez, and James Mitchell,
"The dimensionality of the Scottish political space: Results
from an experiment on the 2011 Holyrood elections," Party
Politics, 20 (November, 2014), 864-878. [Available
During the past decade, Voting Advice Applications (VAAs)
have been employed in a number of diverse national settings,
especially in Europe, but also, increasingly, outside the
continent. Ostensibly, the aim of the VAA is to help voters
decide which party or candidate most closely matches their
policy preferences. Its primary logic is therefore that of
an application to benefit the voter, rather than a survey
tool. However, given the large datasets it can generate, the
VAA also has great potential as a device that could be used
in research on the political orientation of citizens. It is
this potential that our article intends to exploit.
Specifically, the focus is on how Voting Advice Applications
(VAAs) can be used to extend our understanding of underlying
policy dimensions in a polity and the relative positioning
of supporters of political parties.
- Table 1. Holyrood election results with breakdown of
Scottish vote compass sample.
- Table 2. The policy space: Scotland (all valid
- Table 3. Mokken scales with scalability coefficients
- Figure 1. Positions of ideological party supporters
in policy space (means).
- Table 4. Means and standard deviation of positions of
ideological party supporters.
- Table 5. The policy space: Scotland (sample weighted
by party support).
- Table 6. Mean scores and standard deviations on six
- Figure 2. Positions of parties (coded by experts) and
ideological party supporters..
The main benefit of VAA-generated data over conventional
survey data is that they can potentially provide far more
insights into the construction of policy spaces because,
as a rule, they include far more questions on policy
positions. It is rarely practical to include 30 policy
statements in a face-to-face survey and user responses to
a small number of policy statements are less amenable to
the sort of dimension reduction techniques described in
this article. Overall, we can conclude that the method
outlined here provides a useful addition to the
repertoire of methods that have been used so far in the
mapping of political parties. We can expect that the VAA
will be developed as a tool for party mapping much
further in the future.