(How) Can We Estimate the Ideology of Citizens and Political Elites on the Same Scale?


The estimation of the ideology of political elites such as candidates and elected officials on the same scale as that of ordinary citizens has been shown to have great potential to provide new understand- ings of voting behavior, representation and other political phenomena. There has been limited attention, however, to the fundamental practical and conceptual issues involved in these scalings or to the sensitivity of these estimates to modeling assumptions and data choices. I show that the standard strategy of estimating ideal point models for preference data on citizens and elites can suffer from potentially problematic patholo- gies. This paper addresses these issues and presents a modeling approach that can be used to investigate the effects of modeling assumptions on resulting estimates and also to impose restrictions on the ideological dimension being estimated in a straightforward way.