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Ken

I'me not certain how they got their estimates, they reference a paper by Poole, but it isn't in the bibliography. What you get for using Word. Simon Jackman for voting intentions in the US government using data pooled over time uses a latent variable method, essentially item response theory (IRT), and I assume they use this or something that is effectively the same.

The problem with it, is that you need items spread across the range of difficulty, otherwise results can be dominated by a small number of items. In this case given that only 3 nations have voted in favour of the US action on Cuba this makes it a very difficult item. So getting it "correct", unless there are items of similar difficulty, would virtually define the value of the latent variable, which is what the right axis represents. Some sort of sensitivity analysis needs to be done without these unusual items. It is quite probable that they don't fit the IRT model anyway.

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