Measuring Congruence Between Voters and Parties in Online Surveys: Does Question Wording Matter?

Bastiaan Bruinsma


Congruence on policies between political parties and voters is a frequently assumed re­quirement for democracy. To be able to study this, we should be able to calculate accurate and precise measures of policy congruence in political systems. This could then tell us more about the political system we study, and the “distances” that exist between parties and voters on either issues or broader ideological dimensions. Here, I draw on experimental data from a Voting Advice Application to show that the wording of the issues can influence the degree of congruence one measures. Yet, this comes with the complication that this influence depends on the type of issue, the characteristics of the voters themselves, and the party the congruence is calculated with. These findings should serve as a warning for those who aim to measure congruence that even minor changes in question-wording can (but do not have to) cause relatively large changes in congruence, especially when many parties are involved and the differences between the congruences are small.


congruence, wording effects, voting advice applications

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