The political editor of The Sunday Times is far from the only one astonished at a new, left-wing academic study of BBC bias:
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) December 23, 2019This is hilarious. Lefty academics bemoan the way the wicked media framed the election to determine that the winner was the party with the most seats, rather than the one that had heroically lost by 10 points https://t.co/FpIJpancua
Here are a couple of others:
Martin Wardle: LSE stuff is normally a decent read but I really can’t get what they’re on about here. Apparently the BBC was biased in the way it presented the exit poll using only “seats”. The single thing that decides who wins elections?!
Dan Barker: This is quite strange. The LSE reports that the BBC's reporting of the (correct) exit poll on election night was 'systemic media bias', and that they should instead have spent more time reporting that Labour 'only' lost by 3.6 million votes.
Looking up the authors of the report, I see that the one whose name comes first - Pippa Norris - is director of the Electoral Integrity Project. That led me onto Wikipedia's entry on the Electoral Integrity Project. In the light of this new study, the entry makes for fascinating (and rather entertaining) reading:
The Electoral Integrity Project is an academic project based at Harvard University and the University of Sydney which seeks to quantify the integrity of elections worldwide. The project freely publishes its Perceptions of Electoral Integrity dataset for scholarly use. The most recent data release (PEI 6.0) covers 285 elections in 164 countries from mid 2012 to the end of 2017. The founding Director is Pippa Norris.
The project received media attention in 2016 when it ranked the United States last among western nations. One of the project's International Advisory Board, Andrew Reynolds, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted in the Raleigh-based News and Observer that his home state's election integrity score was similar to Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. The study ranked integrity of the state's congressional districts lowest in the nation just below similar outlier Wisconsin. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal ridiculed the study, noting that "Democracy in New York (which scored a 61) and Virginia (60) is supposedly more imperiled than in Rwanda (64), though Rwanda is controlled by an autocrat. The worst-performing state, Arizona (53), is outranked by Kuwait (55), Ivory Coast (59) and Kyrgyzstan (54)."] Dylan Matthews writing in Vox agreed that "it seems foolish to infer from that that the US is less of a democracy than Rwanda" but felt that the EIP had highlighted important issues such as gerrymandering and voter registration laws.[
Statistician Andrew Gelman had a negative view of the PEI Index, commenting that "[it] all seems like an unstable combination of political ideology, academic self-promotion, credulous journalism, and plain old incompetence", noting among other things that the EIP's 2014 data release has previously given the North Korean parliamentary election an 'electoral integrity' score of 65.3 and Cuba 65.6, higher than elections in EU members Romania and Bulgaria.Norris addressed the controversy in two long replies to Gelman, noting that her team had subsequently dropped the North Korean election from the dataset. Gelman, however, questioned her justification for this removal and continued to question the EIP's methodology more generally.
You couldn't make it up.