U.S. Congress & Presidency on Foreign Elections

A New Text-Analysis Measure of Attention

In a new article, ``Quantifying Attention to Foreign Elections with Text Analysis of U.S. Congress and the Presidency,'' Ashrakat Elshehawy, Nikolay Marinov and Federico Nanni of the University of Mannheim derive a new measure of attention to foreign elections.  

In a nutshell, from the Abstract:

We use web-scraping and text-analysis techniques to identify cases in which the U.S. government discussed democratization in other states, as well as considered or imposed foreign policy measures to affect liberalism abroad.  We focus our search around periods surrounding foreign elections.   Elections are important for democratization, and attract  intense international scrutiny.   We comb through more than 1.2 million documents contained in the Congressional Record and all congressional legislation, as well as the American Presidency Project.  We utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP) approaches to extract all instances related to our search.  The documents we retrieve represent  the first measure of attention by U.S. Congress and the President to democratization and electoral practices abroad.     Our approach improves considerably the precision, coverage and granularity of existing data.    Our data can be used as is, or further processed, to relate U.S. policy commitments to policy outcomes.  We provide some examples.  We utilize a set of best practices that, together with the data and code we supply, can be used by scholars in a wide variety of settings, to collect information on any policy response by a bureaucratic entity.

The authors thank Jordan Tama and seminar participants at the University of New Hampshire, February 2017, for feedback and comments on this and earlier versions.  Marinov thanks the Electoral Integrity Project, Sydney, where some of the early work was done, March 2016.

The article is currently under review, and is available for download from SSRN.