Measuring the Importance of Political Elites

06.05.2019 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Dr. Simon Munzert
Lecturer affiliation: 
Hertie School, Berlin

Political influence and prominence are both important drivers and outcomes of political careers, however are hard to quantify. I develop a method to measure these characteristics for a large set of political elites using information from the largest database of politicians—the English Wikipedia. I argue that metadata from the encyclopaedia, such as article editing, readership metrics, and linkage structures are reflective of the latent traits. A Bayesian latent variable model is employed to identify prominence and influence scores for a set of 45,000 U.S. politicians. Several validation exercises corroborate the superiority of the measures over existing alternatives. To illustrate their usefulness, I present an analysis of media appearances of political elites. The ability to measure the importance of political elites on a large scale has various implications for the understanding of political career paths, electoral performance, and legislative politics.