Data Set Description for Chapter 7: CSES
Data Exercise Contributor: Jens Wäckerle
The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project provides a comparative dataset of election studies and is created by an international team of researchers from around the world. The national research teams include a common set of questions in the national post-elections surveys, such as the British Election Study. This data is combined with electoral variables, demographics, district and national level variables and information on the respective political system. One key advantage of the dataset is that it combines the election studies of a wide range of countries into one single data file and ensures that a considerable number of important questions are asked across these countries in a consistent manner.
A core set of questions remains the same in every survey, but the CSES also incorporates new research topics in its questionnaire, with every of the five-year waves of data collection focusing on a different topic. For instance, the fifth iteration of the project, runs from 2016 to 2021 and is called “Democracy Divided? People, Politicians and the Politics of Populism.”. The subsequent module has specific questions on the topic of “Representative Democracy under Pressure”. Each module comprises a different set of countries, driven, among other aspects by the cooperation of a local team to ensure that a post-election survey is run and the CSES questions are included. Some countries, such as the USA, Germany and Sweden are included in all five modules. The dataset can be accessed here. While reading, please keep in mind the questions you see below and answer them once you reached the end. At the end, we will provide a link to a platform with an interactive version of the dataset and additional tasks.
|How could you use these data to study descriptive representation? Would you need to combine these data with other data? Why?|
|What about substantive or symbolic representation?|
|How does measuring populism help us to understand representation?|
The CSES dataset provides data for respondents on three different levels: micro-level (demographic) data, micro-level (survey) data, district level data and macro-level data. Table 2 shows ten randomly drawn respodents from the dataset. Besides the variables shown here, CSES provides data on occupation, race, income, immigration and region/electoral district.
|Year of Birth||Gender||Education||Religion||Country|
Table 3 shows an example of the voting data in the survey section of the dataset. For each of the major party, the survey asks for their left-right self-placement, their perceived placement of the parties on the left-right scale, and how much they like or dislike the parties. Then, it asked for voting decisions in the most recent parliamentary and presidential election, both on the party as well as the district level.
|Vote Choice - Party||Left-Right Self-placement||Left-Right CDU||Left-Right SPD||Left-Right Linke||Left-Right Gruene||Left-Right CSU||Left-Right FDP||Left-Right AfD||Like-Dislike CDU||Like-Dislike SPD||Like-Dislike Linke||Like-Dislike Gruene||Like-Dislike CSU||Like-Dislike FDP||Like-Dislike AfD|
In addition to the qustions on voting, the CSES includes a battery of questions in all national post-election surveys that follow a certain theme. In wave 5, this theme is centered around populism. Consequently, Table 4 shows some of the questions on populism from the survey: The respondents were asked to strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree not disagree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with statements on political elites. In the table, higher values indicate more disagreement with the respective statement.
|Vote Choice - Party||Elites: Compromise Selling Out||Elites: Do Not Care||Elites: Trustworthy||Elites: Main Problem||Elites: Strong Leader||Elites: People Make Decisions||Elites: Rich and Powerful|
On the district level, the CSES dataset matches district-level results to the place of residence of the respondent. Table 5 shows an example from Germany. In mixed-systems such as Germany, the CSES always reports the district level vote share in this section, which corresponds to the vote for the district candidate in Germany.
|Electoral District||District Vote Share CDU||E5001_A||District Vote Share SPD||District Vote Share AfD||District Vote Share FDP||District Vote Share Linke||District Vote Share Gruene||District Vote Share CSU|
On a macro-level, the dataset provides information on electoral results on the national level (votes and seats) for lower and upper houses as well as presidential elections. In the dataset, some countries had parliamentary elections included in the dataset, some presidential, and some both. Table 6 shows 10 individual respondents from the main dataset and the electoral results that were matched based on the country they live in.
|Country||Vote Party A||Vote Party B||Seats Party A||Seats Party B||Vote President A||Vote President B||Turnout|
|United States of America||999.00||999.00||44.60||55.40||48.18||46.09||63.83|
Table 7 shows some of the data that is available on the party level: Parties are coded by party experts into party families, on the left-right scale and in relation to populism. Additionally, the dataset includes information on whether parties were in parliament, in government and what share of government offices they held.
|Country||Portfolios Before Election Party A||Portfolios Before Election Party B||Portfolios After Election Party A||Portfolios After Election Party B||Ideological Family Party A||Ideological Family Party B|
Additionally, the dataset contains a multitude of variables describing the electoral system, such as whether there is compulsory voting, whether there are party thresholds or which voting system (e.g. party lists, single member districts,…) is used. An of the CSES dataset is that all data is available in one dataset so researchers can combine individual-level survey data and macro-level information in a coherent manner.
Here, you will find an interactive version of the CSES dataset and several questions to answer and discuss. We suggest you open this app on a laptop or tablet. Enjoy!