Demos Releases Response To Report Linking Welfare Reform To Declining Voter Registration
October 6, 2009
Today, Demos released a report by R. Michael Alvarez of California's Institute of Technology and Jonathan Nagler of NYU entitled Declining Public Assistance Voter Registration and Welfare Reform: A Response which examines the statistical claims put forth by in a recent report from the Heritage Center for Data Analysis (2008) titled Welfare Reform a Factor in Lower Voter Registration at Public Assistance Offices.
In the report, Heritage Center authors Muhlhausen and Tyrrell argue that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)--passed in 1996 as part of Clinton's Welfare overhaul-- is an important cause of the decline in the number of individuals who have registered to vote in public assistance agencies.
Researchers Alvaraze and Nagler conclude that the Heritatge Center reports suffers from methodological flaws in that they make a key error of inference in overstating the certainty of their results. By artificially manipulating the number of observations included in their analysis, Muhlhausen and Tyrrell greatly overstate the precision of their estimates, thus allowing them to claim that their results reach traditional levels of statistical reliability when, in fact, they largely do not.