Acta Politica was among the first journals to publish a research paper on the new phenomenon of voting advice applications (VAAs) – web-based tests that promise to show users how close their policy preferences are to those of parties and candidates during an election campaign. ‘VAA’, the term that is now commonly used by the researchers in this field, was coined by Walgrave et al. (2008) in an Acta Politica article in which they analyzed the electoral impact of a popular VAA in Belgium.
In the past two years, Acta Politica has published four additional articles looking at the design of VAAs in a way that reflects the cumulative nature of scientific research. Wagner and Ruusuvirta (2012) reviewed many of the theoretical assumptions that VAAs make when they try to match voters to parties and/or candidates. Furthermore, Gemenis (2013) reviewed various methodological issues regarding estimating parties' positions in policy issues and the representation of parties in low-dimensional VAA maps. Louwerse and Rosema (2013) took these insights in an empirical test by comparing many different (low- and high-dimensional) methods for matching. Finally, after identifying some problems in established practice, Germann et al. (2014) proposed a method to validate the construction of scales that are used in low-dimensional methods for matching voters to parties/candidates in VAAs.
We now bring these five important contributions together in a single, virtual special collection. We hope that it will provide a comprehensive reference on VAAs, and that it will stimulate further research in this important field.
‘Do the Vote Test’: The Electoral Effects of a Popular Vote Advice Application at the 2004 Belgian Elections
Stefaan Walgrave, Peter van Aelst and Michiel Nuytemans
Matching voters to parties: Voting advice applications and models of party choice
Markus Wagner and Outi Ruusuvirta
The design effects of voting advice applications: Comparing methods of calculating matches
Tom Louwerse and Martin Rosema
Spatial maps in voting advice applications: The case for dynamic scale validation
Micha Germann, Fernando Mendez, Jonathan Wheatley and Uwe Serdült