Nov. 15, 2022
Congratulations to Russell Glenn!
Best Political Science Honours Thesis Prize is for the best undergraduate Honours Thesis in the Department of Political Science, open to any area of Political Science
Russell Glenn’s thesis was written under the supervision of Dr. Kim-Lee Tuxhorn. Dr. Kim-Lee Tuxhorn, tell us a bit about what made Russell’s thesis stand out?
How well do local politicians know their constituents’ policy preferences? Why do some politicians misperceive constituent preferences more than others? Russell Glenn’s research questions get at the heart of one the key pillars of democracy—political representation! Russell began his project with insightful questions and followed through with an excellent discussion on various factors that could influence perceptual accuracy including politicians’ ideology, experience, constituency type, and issue salience. His statistical modeling and analysis were top notch. It was a full-package thesis.
Russell, what was your thesis’ title and main findings or arguments?
My thesis, Explaining Perceptual Accuracy Among Municipal Politicians, asks two questions. First, how well do municipal politicians know what their constituents think about political issues? Second, why might a politician’s conception of their constituents’ opinions be incorrect? Using survey data of Canadian municipal politicians and estimates of their constituents’ opinions, it makes three findings. First, politicians are generally good at knowing what their constituents think—their estimates of constituent opinion were 79% accurate on average. Second, conservative politicians are more likely to hold inaccurate views of what their constituents think about political issues. Third, politicians often believe more of their constituents share their personal beliefs on political issues than really do.
Any advice to other students for getting through the thesis?
Don’t get too hung up on picking a topic! Given the short amount of time you have to complete the thesis, it’s more important to pick a topic that’s doable than one that aligns perfectly with your interests. The whole process is a lot more enjoyable if you pick a simple topic early on and stick with it. No matter what you write on, the thesis on it will be fun and you’ll learn a lot.
So, what’s next for you after the thesis?
I’m taking a gap year, then hopefully on to a master's in political science or public policy.
Congratulations to Russell Glenn on your 2021–22 UCalgary Political Science Best Thesis Prize!
To find out more about the Political Science paper prizes and past prize winners please visit our website.