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van der Linden Clifton, Assistant Professor


Cliff’s academic interests centre on the implications of technology for both the practice and study of politics. His research explores the relationships between digital technologies and patterns of democratic participation. He is also actively engaged in the application of new, technologically-enabled methods—such as the use of Big Data and machine learning—to the study of political behaviour and public opinion. His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Political Analysis, the International Journal of Forecasting, the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, the Journal of Global Security Studies, and Nations and Nationalism.

Cliff received his doctoral training in political science from the University of Toronto, where he was a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship, the Beattie fellowship from the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice, the Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award, and the Clarkson Laureateship for Public Service. While at the University of Toronto, he was a junior fellow at Massey College and an Action Canada fellow. He served as chair of the G7 Research Group at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy as well as editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Law and International Relations, a peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Cliff has also been a visiting scholar at the Free University Amsterdam, the European University Institute, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Cliff has founded and led numerous companies—from non-profit organizations to Silicon Valley-incubated, venture-backed technology start-ups. He is presently the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vox Pop Labs, a social enterprise best known for producing Vote Compass, a voter engagement and education application that has drawn tens of millions of users. Vote Compass has been run in more than a dozen countries worldwide in partnership with media organizations including the Canadian and Australian Broadcasting Corporations, The Wall Street Journal, Vox Media, Grupo Globo, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, Sky News UK, France24, and Television New Zealand. Cliff's entrepreneurial endeavours were recognized with the Toronto Region Board of Trade's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2017. He was also named one of Toronto’s Top 12 Young Innovators of 2012 by Post City Magazine and was the recipient of McMaster University’s Arch Young Alumni Award in 2015.

Cliff has advised various governments on matters related to digital technology and public opinion research. He is also a regular media contributor on issues pertaining to elections and public policy.



B.A. (Honours), Economics and Political Science (minor in Business), McMaster University, 2004

M.A., Journalism, Western University, 2005

Certificate in Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, 2013

Ph.D., Political Science, University of Toronto, 2018



Graduate Supervision

Cliff is interested in supervising graduate students pursuing research involving digital technology, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, psephology, electoral politics, public opinion, political behaviour, or political communication.

Graduate Courses

POLSCI 730: Digital Technology and the Politics of the Information Age

This course examines the relationships between technological and political change, with a particular emphasis on digital technology and its relationship to the contemporary practice of politics. The aim of the course is to better understand the ways in which technology both influences and is influenced by politics. It explores how social responses to emergent technologies support and challenge different theories of politics. This is achieved both by surveying the range of ideas and arguments in the field as well as by drawing on specific case studies such as the implications of social media platforms for electoral politics and democratic governance, of Artificial Intelligence for the automation of warfare and the workforce, as well as the political economy of cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Undergraduate Courses

POLSCI 2I03: Global Politics

This course explores various ways of explaining conflict and co-operation at the global level. It is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of contemporary or historical world events, but rather an introduction to international relations theory as a lens through which to try to understand why states and other international actors behave the way they do in a given context.



Journal Articles

Gordon, Joshua, Sanjay Jeram, and Clifton van der Linden. “The two solitudes of Canadian nativism: Explaining the absence of a competitive anti-immigration party in Canada.” Nations and Nationalism (2019). Early View.

Temporão, Mickael, Yannick Dufresne, Justin Savoie, and Clifton van der Linden. “Crowdsourcing the vote: new horizons in citizen forecasting.” International Journal of Forecasting 35, no. 1 (2019): 1-10.

Glas, Aarie, Clifton van der Linden, Matthew Hoffmann, and Robert Denemark. “Understanding multilateral treaty-making as constitutive practice.” Journal of Global Security Studies 3, no. 3 (2018): 339-357.

Temporão, Mickael, Corentin Vande Kerckhove, Clifton van der Linden, Yannick Dufresne, and Julien M. Hendrickx. “Ideological scaling of social media users: a dynamic lexicon approach.” Political Analysis 26, no. 4 (2018): 457-473.

van der Linden, Clifton, and Yannick Dufresne. “The curse of dimensionality in Voting Advice Applications: reliability and validity in algorithm design.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 27, no. 1 (2017): 9-30.

van der Linden, Clifton, and Jack Vowles. “(De)coding elections: the implications of Voting Advice Applications.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 27, no. 1 (2017): 2-8.

Osborne, Danny, Yannick Dufresne, Gregory Eady, Jennifer Lees-Marshment, and Clifton van der Linden. “Is the Personal Always Political? Education and Political Knowledge Strengthen the Relationship Between Openness and Conservatism.” Journal of Individual Differences 38 (2017): 133-143.

Osborne, Danny, Jennifer Lees-Marshment, and Clifton van der Linden. “National identity and the flag change referendum: Examining the latent profiles underlying New Zealanders’ flag change support.” New Zealand Sociology 31, no. 7 (2016): 19-47.

Lees-Marshment, Jennifer, Yannick Dufresne, Gregory Eady, Danny Osborne, Clifton van der Linden, and Jack Vowles. “Vote Compass in the 2014 New Zealand election: Hearing the voice of New Zealand voters.” Political Science 67, no. 2 (2015): 94-124.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Secession: final frontier for international law or site of realpolitik revival?” Journal of International Law and International Relations 5, no. 2 (2009): 1-10.

Book Chapters

Lees-Marshment, Jennifer, Edward Elder, Lisa Chant, Danny Osborne, Justin Savoie, and Clifton van der Linden, “Vote Compass NZ 2017: Marketing Insights into Public Views on Policy and Leaders.” In Political Marketing and Management in the 2017 New Zealand Election, ed. Jennifer Lees-Marshment (New York: Springer International Publishing, 2018), 7-22.

Eady, Gregory, and Clifton van der Linden. “Better together? Poll aggregation and Canadian election forecasting.” In Canadian Election Analysis: Communication, Strategy, and Democracy, eds. Thierry Giasson and Alex Marland (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015), 110-113.

Dufresne, Yannick, and Clifton van der Linden. “Digital technology and civic engagement: the case of Vote Compass.” In Canadian Election Analysis: Communication, Strategy, and Democracy, eds. Thierry Giasson and Alex Marland (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015), 114-116.

Edited Volumes

Vowles, Jack and Clifton van der Linden. “The implications of Voting Advice Applications.” Special issue of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 27, no 1 (2017).

Telfer, Candice and Clifton van der Linden. “Borders and Boundaries: Secession in the 21st century.” Special issue of the Journal of International Law and International Relations 5, no. 2 (Winter 2010).

Wiener, Antje, Uwe Puetter, Candice Telfer and Clifton van der Linden. “Contested norms in International Law and International Relations.” Special issue of the Journal of International Law and International Relations 5, no. 1 (Spring 2009).


van der Linden, Clifton. Final Report. Ottawa: Privy Council Office, Government of Canada, 2017.

Boudreault, Félix-Antoine, James Haga, Benjamin Paylor, Annie Sabourin, Samira Thomas, and Clifton van der Linden. Future Tense: Adapting Canadian education systems for the 21st century. Vancouver: Action Canada, 2013.

Popular Press

van der Linden, Clifton. “Horwath taps those weary of Wynne, fearful of Ford.” CBC News, May 29, 2018.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Why the Vote Compass methodology holds up.” The Drum, June 9, 2016.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Albertans predict PC majority despite polls giving edge to NDP.” CBC News, May 2, 2015.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Holding MPs to account is now considered mischief?” The Drum, January 21, 2015.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Vote Compass users rate leaders on trust.” CBC News, May 30, 2014.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Quebec’s tuition summit sidesteps a generational crisis.” The Globe and Mail, February 25, 2013.

van der Linden, Clifton. “Can science solve our biggest problems?” Policy Options, December 1, 2012.

van der Linden, Clifton and Kelly Hinton. “Voter turnout: thinking outside the (ballot) box.” The Mark News, December 14, 2011.