ArticlePDF Available

The VP-Function Revisited: A Survey of the Literature on Vote and Popularity Functions after over 40 Years



Nannestad and Paldam (Public Choice 79:213–245, 1994) published herein an extremely influential review of the literature linking economics and elections, what they called the “VP functions.” In that work, they offered a number of conclusions, in proposition form, about the state of the evidence in this field. We present the key ones (16 in all), and assess the extent to which they continue to hold, in light of the new evidence about what has come to be known as economic voting. As shall be shown, Nannestad and Paldam were prescient in their early establishment of many of the principal results explaining how the economy moves the vote choice.
1 23
Public Choice
ISSN 0048-5829
Volume 157
Combined 3-4
Public Choice (2013) 157:367-385
DOI 10.1007/s11127-013-0086-6
The VP-function revisited: a survey of the
literature on vote and popularity functions
after over 40 years
Michael S.Lewis-Beck & Mary Stegmaier
1 23
Your article is protected by copyright and all
rights are held exclusively by Springer Science
+Business Media New York. This e-offprint is
for personal use only and shall not be self-
archived in electronic repositories. If you wish
to self-archive your article, please use the
accepted manuscript version for posting on
your own website. You may further deposit
the accepted manuscript version in any
repository, provided it is only made publicly
available 12 months after official publication
or later and provided acknowledgement is
given to the original source of publication
and a link is inserted to the published article
on Springer's website. The link must be
accompanied by the following text: "The final
publication is available at”.
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
DOI 10.1007/s11127-013-0086-6
The VP-function revisited: a survey of the literature
on vote and popularity functions after over 40 years
Michael S. Lewis-Beck ·Mary Stegmaier
Received: 8 January 2013 / Accepted: 10 May 2013 / Published online: 6 June 2013
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
Abstract Nannestad and Paldam (Public Choice 79:213–245, 1994) published herein an
extremely influential review of the literature linking economics and elections, what they
called the “VP functions.” In that work, they offered a number of conclusions, in proposition
form, about the state of the evidence in this field. We present the key ones (16 in all), and
assess the extent to which they continue to hold, in light of the new evidence about what
has come to be known as economic voting. As shall be shown, Nannestad and Paldam were
prescient in their early establishment of many of the principal results explaining how the
economy moves the vote choice.
Keywords Economic voting ·Elections ·Popularity ·Vote functions ·Government support
As Nannestad and Paldam (1994: 213) observe, the “VP-function explains the support for
the government as a function of economic and political outcomes.” This early review article,
published in the pages of Public Choice, has had a major impact on the study of economics
and elections. Indeed, according to Google Scholar, it has been cited over 450 times. The
article at hand seeks to revisit this literature, offering an update of VP-function research
and of the findings from that seminal review. When Nannestad and Paldam (hereafter N&P)
wrote, they were forced to be selective, for they were looking at about 25 years of work,
consisting of close to 200 titles. As we write, we are looking at perhaps 500 titles, making
us, of necessity, still more selective (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2007). To organize our
review, then, we focus on the key conclusions, or propositions, offered up by Nannestad and
Paldam (1994), especially as revealed in cross-national studies. Below, we begin with an
introduction to the general points made by N&P. We go on to look at their more specific
M.S. Lewis-Beck
University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
M. Stegmaier ()
University of Missouri, Columbia, USA
Author's personal copy
368 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
findings, as they appear in light of micro, then macro, investigations. We conclude with a
discussion of what from N&P still holds, and what does not.
1 Introduction
The guiding question asks how the economy links to government support, as measured by
votes (in the “vote function”) or by popularity (in the “popularity function”). To the extent
that such a link exists, it has come to be called the “economic vote,” where classically the
voter rewards the government for good economic performance and punishes it for bad (Key
1966;Fiorina1981; Lewis-Beck 1988). According to N&P, the following propositions are
1. The economic vote almost always achieves statistical significance.
2. The economic vote almost always registers a strong effect.
These propositions still hold, in established democracies and transitional ones, as demon-
strated by numerous literature reviews and meta-analyses. Paldam himself has made these
points for established democracies in two later V-P essays (Lewis-Beck and Paldam 2000;
Paldam 2004). In an earlier review, Norpoth (1996a) provides an overview of the vote func-
tion findings and the various dimensions of the economic vote. Anderson (1995), writing
at about the same time, shows that monthly popularity data from Western European na-
tions, 1960–1990, respond to macroeconomic conditions. In an often-cited review article on
the subject, Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier (2000) offer an extensive survey of economic de-
terminants in presidential and legislative elections in the United States, France, Britain and
Denmark, and in less-studied nations. Carrying out a later review, they focus exclusively
on individual-level survey research on economic voting, emphasizing findings in the most-
studied nations and cross-national studies (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2007). In the same
year, Duch (2007) contributes an essay exploring variations in the magnitude the economic
vote across countries and over time.
Turning to economic voting in transitional democracies, Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier
(2008) examine the emerging literature on economic voting in the democracies of Latin
America, Russia and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Research on these
countries demonstrates that the economy affects voting decisions and election results, de-
spite the newness of democratic elections. In a contemporary state-of-the-discipline piece,
Hellwig (2010) goes on to analyze how the political system, age of the democracy, and
democratic consolidation affect the strength of the economic vote across 77 democracies.
He also demonstrates how politicians might use their constitutional powers, such as calling
early elections, to evade punishment for economic conditions. Finally, in a current exer-
cise, Stegmaier and Lewis-Beck (2013), go online to provide an updateable bibliography on
economic voting investigations for nations around the world.
As the reader can appreciate, review articles themselves are numerous and growing. As a
body, they continue to support the above general propositions suggesting the statistical and
substantive significance of the economic vote in democracies everywhere. The following
summary observation in a recent review still rings true: “In terms of ‘issue voting’ models,
the expectation is that economics can be demonstrated generally to be the top issue for the
electorate, both in terms of rank and structural effect” (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2007:
532). Details supporting this judgment will be illustrated along the way, as we focus on
the specific N&P conclusions that frame our discussion. Below, we examine those conclu-
sions, as they pertain to micro-studies. Then, we turn to macro-studies, before offering final
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 369
Tab le 1 Typical economic evaluation survey measures
Retrospective Sociotropic Question: Compared to 12 months ago, do you think that the national economy is
now better, about the same, or worse?
Prospective Sociotropic Question: Over the next 12 months, do you think that the national economy will get
better, stay the same, or get worse?
Retrospective Egotropic Question: Compared to 12 months ago, do you think that the financial situation of
your household is now better, about the same, or worse?
Prospective Egotropic Question: Over the next 12 months, do you think that the financial situation of your
household will get better, stay the same, or get worse?
Note: These are stylized versions of typical economic evaluations. Readers can refer to the American Na-
tional Election Study, Eurobarometer, or other election surveys for variations on the question wording
2 Micro-studies
Individual-level election survey investigations (micro-studies) are invaluable because they
overcome the ecological fallacy to which the traditional national-level aggregate investi-
gations (macro-studies) are subject. That is, observed relationships between the macroecon-
omy and national election outcomes might be spurious, a product of some third variable. Vot-
ers themselves, then, would not actually be taking into account economic conditions when
casting their vote. The election survey work of Fiorina (1981)andKiewiet(1983)marked
the shifting emphasis to micro-economic voting studies in the United States (Lewis-Beck
and Stegmaier 2009). Soon thereafter came the Lewis-Beck (1988) investigation of eco-
nomic voting in Western European surveys, so marking the shift in that region. In these sur-
veys, items generally divided themselves along two dimensions: target and time (Kinder and
Kiewiet 1981). “Target” refers to whether the economic circumstances evaluated concerned
the voter’s personal situation (egotropic) or the economy of the nation (sociotropic). “Time”
refers to whether the voter looks forward (prospective) or backward (retrospective) when
evaluating economic performance (Downs 1957;Fiorina1981). Standard survey wording
for these items appears in Table 1. N&P offer two propositions in this regard:
3. Sociotropic economic voting has a greater impact than egotropic voting.
4. Retrospective economic voting has a greater impact than prospective voting.
In the most thorough single-nation study, Kiewiet (1983) demonstrates that in congres-
sional and presidential elections in the United States egotropic effects are weak to non-
existent, compared to strong sociotropic effects of the retrospective type. (Alvarez and Na-
gler (1995), in a later study, reach the same conclusions.) Denmark has also received ex-
tensive study here. Nannestad and Paldam (1997) themselves find, exceptionally, that for
the Danish case egotropic evaluations dominate sociotropic ones. They explain this comes
from the presence of a strong welfare state, which Danes may perceive as responsible for
their well-being. However, a recent study thoroughly re-examines the N&P data, and finds
that egotropic effects are weak after all, while sociotropic ones are strong (Lewis-Beck et
al. 2013). This more standard finding in fact supports the original finding of Borre (1997),
in his examination of the 1987, 1990, and 1994 Danish general election surveys.
In a comparative study, Lewis-Beck (1988), looking at repeated surveys from France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, uncovers no pocketbook effects but clear
retrospective and prospective sociotropic effects. In a later, pooled survey analysis of 13 Eu-
ropean nations, Anderson (2000) also finds a strong influence from sociotropic retrospective
evaluations, but no influence from egotropic ones. Executing the largest study thus far on
Author's personal copy
370 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
economic voting, Duch and Stevenson (2008) examine 165 surveys from 19 countries, and
uncover strong sociotropic retrospective effects.
In a follow-up study, Nadeau et al. (2013), carry out a pooled survey investigation (ten
European nations surveyed four times, 1988–2004), and again uncover strong sociotropic
retrospective effects. Specifically, they estimate that, if voter perception of past economic
performance changes from “worse” to “better,” a vote in favor of the incumbent becomes
19 % to 35 % more likely, depending on the model specification selected. They conclude
the following: “changes in the probability impact rendered by changes in perception of the
economy are not small. Overall, there are serious economic effects on vote intention in
these democracies, and they appear robust against multiple methodological and statistical
challenges” (Nadeau et al. 2013).
The above investigations confine themselves to Europe, but other regions have been sub-
jected to micro-studies as well. In a comparative examination of surveys from Hungary
and Poland, Duch (2001) finds that through time their citizens have become more trusting
of their democracies, and this has facilitated the link between the economy and the vote.
In a contemporary survey investigation of sub-Saharan African democracies, Bratton et al.
(2012) find that voters evaluate the economy and reward or punish the government accord-
ingly. A current survey investigation of another low-income region, Latin America, looks
at sociotropic retrospective voting in a pool of 12 countries across three election periods
(Lewis-Beck and Ratto 2013). They uncover rather strong effects, e.g., a change in the na-
tional economic perception “from “worse” to “better” increases the estimated incumbent
vote probability by .21, not a trivial effect” (Lewis-Beck and Ratto 2013).
With respect to propositions 3 and 4 above, then, they are in the main supported.
Clearly, sociotropic evaluations overwhelm egotropic ones. The relatively strong impact of
sociotropic retrospective evaluations seems equally clear, regardless of whether the democ-
racy is new or old, low-income or high-income. What remains somewhat controversial is the
impact of prospective economic voting. Within the literatures on the United States and the
United Kingdom, studies keep popping up to show significant prospective effects (Lockerbie
1992; MacKuen et al. 1992; Price and Sanders 1995; though see Clarke and Stewart 1994
and Norpoth 1996b for important critiques). More recently, Nadeau and Lewis-Beck (2001)
have shown that, in American presidential elections, the economic vote operates mostly in
retrospective fashion when the incumbent runs, and mostly in prospective fashion when the
incumbent does not. In contrast, Campbell et al. (2010), in their own investigation of presi-
dential preferences, claim that no prospective voting exists.
Comparative study seems needed on the prospective question,beyond these single-nation
studies. However, such work is unlikely to be forthcoming, since most researchers seem
to opt for the retrospective, rather than the prospective, specification. That in itself helps
indicate that the retrospective evaluations dominate.1
The economic vote may be asymmetric. For example, the government may be punished
more if the economy turns bad than if it remains good. A fair amount of work has been done
on this asymmetric question. N&P arrive at the following conclusion:
5. The economic vote is not asymmetric
In his founding work on presidential popularity and public opinion in the United States,
Mueller (1973) decided there was an asymmetry in the economy’s impact, with a penalty
1One partial exception comes from the investigation of Van der Brug et al. (2007: 181), who find that under
conditions wherein responsibility is unclear, the prospective effect might be stronger. We focus further on
such conditionalities below.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 371
for bad times but no reward for good times. This idea, that negativity makes more of an
impression than positivity, has found some support in later public opinion studies. If voters
tend to be averse to risk, then they will pay more attention to bad news (Lau 1985; Soroka
2006). To the extent that bad news, such as a flagging economy, makes the economic issue
itself more salient, it may weigh more heavily on the vote (Bélanger and Meguid 2008;
Fournier et al. 2003). When the economy goes bad, more people may know about it, because
of discussion in the media (Singer 2011).
What do direct micro-studies on economic voting show regarding the asymmetry hy-
pothesis? In analyzing the American National Election Studies, Kiewiet (1983: 49) found
no evidence favoring it. Looking at a comparative sample of individual European voters,
Lewis-Beck (1988: 79) also gave it no support: “There is no evidence whatsoever that their
vote choices are motivated more by ‘bad times’ than by ‘good times.”’ But a latter sur-
vey investigation, by N&P (1997) themselves, on the Danish case, suggests that a grievance
asymmetry exists, with “worse” economic evaluations appearing to produce a stronger effect
on government support than “better” economic evaluations. However, an American inves-
tigation released at the same time goes against this grievance idea. Specifically, Haller and
Norpoth (1997), in their examination of the influence of economic news on economic opin-
ion find no effect, so undercutting the saliency argument. For now, we have to conclude that
evidence on proposition 5 remains mixed.
Another issue with regard to sociotropic evaluation concerns its motivation—is it altru-
istic or egoistic? N&P offer the following conclusion here:
6. Sociotropic economic voting is not necessarily self-interested.
The economic vote should be based on self-interest, at least according to a traditional
cost-benefit calculation. Voters select the party that will do more to further their own ma-
terial interests, or so the argument goes. This logic easily works, if economic voters are
egotropic, always voting their own pocketbooks. However, as we have seen, in study after
study, pocketbook effects are weak to nonexistent. Instead, the motivation for the economic
voter, real as it may be, is sociotropic, showing a concern for the material well-being of
the collectivity. This concern for the collectivity has sometimes been interpreted as show-
ing altruism on the part of the sociotropic voter. However as Kinder and Kiewiet (1981:
132), the fathers of the sociotropic concept, state: “Sociotropic voting may proceed out of
altruistic concern for the well-being of all....Alternatively, sociotropic voting may be totally
In a full review of the economic voting literature at the time, Lewin (1991: 45) disallows
the self-interest possibility, asserting that the “results point overwhelmingly against the self-
interest hypothesis,” claiming instead that the sociotropic voter has the public interest in
mind. In a current paper, Kiewiet and Lewis-Beck (2011) attempt to demonstrate that the
sociotropic economic voter may be acting out of self-interest, after all. They begin by re-
calling Kramer’s (1983) distinction regarding the two factors that influence an individual’s
economic well-being: government policies and everything else (e.g., business cycles, illness
and luck). Reasoning economic voters support the government if its policies benefit them,
and oppose otherwise.
But, in practice, sorting out the “government part” of individuals’ changed economic
well-being is impossible. Kiewiet and Lewis-Beck therefore look at the next best thing,
namely how the economy is performing as a whole. Voters effectively use national economic
performance as a proxy for their personal economic circumstances. Further, they understand
intuitively that when the country prospers they are more likely to prosper. In sum, for these
reasons, the sociotropic voter may be self-interested. Also, of course, the sociotropic voter
Author's personal copy
372 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
may care only about the public interest, and thus simply favor the party that will better
manage the economy. That is to say, the sociotropic voter may be motived purely by self-
interest, or purely by the public interest. As Kiewiet and Lewis-Beck (2011: 312) conclude:
“Data indicating that voters are sociotropic thus do not allow us to determine why they
are sociotropic.” Accepting this conclusion, we can say that proposition 6 of N&P stands
A critical question concerns the operative mechanism of the economic vote, and how that
mechanism may be modified. N&P offer the following conclusion:
7. The economic vote is influenced by interactions with political agents, i.e., it is influenced
by the clarity of government responsibility for the economy.
For the economic vote to operate, the voter must attribute responsibility for economic
management to the government. Without that link, economic voting should not occur. For
example, if the voter believes the economy to be shaped by private business decisions,
weather conditions, or mere chance, then it makes little sense to blame (or praise) the gov-
ernment for current conditions. However, even if the voter does hold the government re-
sponsible for the economy, the “part” of government held responsible might not be clear.
In the above phrase of N&P, the economic vote is influenced by interactions with political
agents, which might include the executive, the legislature, the bureaucracy, or the parties. If,
say, there are many parties in the government coalition, responsibility for economic policy
might be less clear, as compared to a government coalition with few parties.
Let us focus on how parties influence clarity of responsibility, since considerable re-
search has been done here. Powell and Whitten (1993), in their well-known cross-national
macro-analysis, construct an index for measuring the clarity of government responsibility,
and discover its strong relationship to economic voting. In the first comparative micro-study
on the subject, Lewis-Beck (1986) demonstrates that diffusion of government responsibil-
ity, as measured by number of parties in the ruling coalition, influences the size of the na-
tional economic voting coefficient (i.e., in descending order, the United Kingdom, Germany,
France, Italy). Anderson (2000), in his investigation of 13 nations from Eurobarometer sur-
veys, establishes that economic effects strengthen when alternative parties are fewer, and
when there is a large and dominant ruling party.
Later investigations have continued to uncover similar results. Looking at eight European
nations, in surveys over 16 years, Nadeau et al. (2002) show that the greater the clarity of re-
sponsibility, the greater the economic vote. Examining surveys from 15 European countries,
Van der Brug et al. (2007) find that economic voting increases when policy responsibility
clarifies itself, and when the largest party is the primary target. Duch and Stevenson (2008),
in their investigation of election surveys from 19 countries, also discover that the magnitude
of economic voting varies depending on the concentration of responsibility.
Besides the domestic political context, the international political context can influence
the clarity of responsibility. In nations with open economies that are especially dependent
on foreign trade, citizens might find it difficult to decide whom to hold responsible for eco-
nomic ups and downs. Is it the national government? Foreign governments? International
businesses? In a pioneering study using survey data from multiple nations, Hellwig (2001)
finds that the more economic interdependence the country experiences, the weaker will be
the economic vote. Examining surveys from 15 European countries, Fernández-Albertos
(2006) discovers that greater economic openness reduces the impact of employment expec-
tations on the vote. These studies, as well as others, have established that “globalization,” as
it has come to be called, can blur the lines of economic authority, thus reducing the magni-
tude of a country’s national economic voting coefficient.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 373
Thus, the conclusion of Proposition 7, about the role played by clarity of responsibility,
receives very strong support.
We see that voters evaluate the economy, and that these evaluations have consequences
for government support. The implication is that voters know something about the real econ-
omy, and act accordingly. But, how much do voters actually know about the economy? N&P
offer the following proposition:
8. Voters do not have much knowledge about the economy.
In their review essay, Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier (2007: 531) ask, “What information on
the economy do voters have?” Their response, “We know little” about this question, seems
less true now. There are scattered, single nation surveys that have been published (Blendon
et al. 1997;Conoveretal.1986; Holbrook and Garand 1996; Nannestad and Paldam 2000;
Sanders 2000). Early on, for the US case, Conover et al. (1986) reported that, with respect
to macroeconomic indicators, voters tend to make the least error when they estimate the un-
employment rate. In a recent study, Lewis-Beck and Nadeau (2009) show that in the United
States the great majority of voters can estimate the unemployment rate rather accurately.
One reason voters had little knowledge of the real economy, in the view of N&P, was
because of partisan bias. That is, their political preferences clouded their vision of the econ-
omy, so when their own party was in office they thought the economy was good, but when
their party was out of office they thought it was bad. On this endogeneity—of partisan bias
and economic perception—a considerable amount of work has been done with individual
level survey data. There are at least three such studies that are comparative, and we look
at those. Wlezien et al. (1997), in a cross-national analysis, find the magnitude of the eco-
nomic vote reduced, after taking into account the endogeneity of economic perceptions.
Lewis-Beck et al. (2008), in an extended two-stage instrumental variables investigation of
the vote in panel surveys from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, find the
economic vote to be even stronger than supposed, once economic perceptions are properly
exogenized. In a subsequent study, Nadeau et al. (2013) again use an instrumental variables
approach to tease out the economic vote in ten European nations. They conclude that, once
the proper statistical corrections are applied, “economic perceptions appear strongly shaped
by the objective economy” (Nadeau et al. 2013). Voter perceptions do, after all, reflect the
real economy. In sum, they have stored a good deal of knowledge about the economy, even if
they may not be able to retrieve it readily when asked in a survey item. They have a working
knowledge of it, and they employ this in their economic vote. Therefore, we would have to
say that, at least with respect to the partisan bias question, N&P’s conclusion in proposition
8 does not stand.
Voters do know, at bottom, much more about the economy than N&P supposed. Further
evidence here comes from examining the effects of news media on economic knowledge.
Studies of the American case suggest that following economic news does not add (or detract)
from the economic knowledge voters already possess. Hetherington (1996) explores media
exposure and retrospective sociotropic evaluations in the 1992 presidential election. He tests
his models on the 1984 and 1988 elections and does not find a media impact. His findings
are consistent with Haller and Norpoth (1997), who look at how the media affects public
perceptions about the economy in the 1980s in the United States. Their regression models
show that the economic perceptions of both the “news” and “no news” groups are related
to objective economic measures. Further, “even without benefit of economic news, people
are able to draw an economic picture that mirrors that real thing” (Haller and Norpoth 1997:
Author's personal copy
374 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
In perhaps the sole relevant comparative micro-study, Duch and Stevenson (2010: 122)
conclude that “individual perceptions about the volatility of the macroeconomy are rea-
sonably well informed; voters appear to understand the extent to which their economies are
subject to shocks from the international economy; and voters who perceive that the variation
in the national economy differs from variation in the global economy seem more inclined to
exercise an economic vote.” And, this conclusion is arrived at without the complications of
instrumental variables or other exogenizing techniques. It seems, after all, the voters do see
the basic contours of the economies in which they live.
3 Macro-studies
We began with micro-studies, in order to avoid the ecological fallacy, while at the same
time arriving at the basic mechanics of the economic vote. This we have done, establishing
that the economic vote largely takes the retrospective and sociotropic form. Such a result
allows us to aggregate up, from individual voters to aggregate national election outcomes,
with random error only. This assertion follows from the first macro-proposition from N&P,
as follows:
9. The macro-findings on economics and elections reflect the micro-processes of economic
As N&P (1994: 224) deduce logically, “Under the sociotropic hypothesis the macro VP-
function is an average of people’s perceptions of the average, i.e., the macroeconomy ...
It is hard to imagine that the perceptions of the same macroeconomic development can
be more different than the actual experiences. Hence, we should get (much) stronger VP-
functions under the sociotropic than under the egotropic hypothesis.” They go on to note,
however, that this formal micro-macro link breaks down if the assumptions change, e.g., if
the retrospective assumption is dropped.
Fortunately, there is a contemporary demonstration that this micro-macro link exists em-
pirically, as well as formally (Lewis-Beck et al. 2013). Using a pool of eight Danish national
election studies (1987–2011), analyzed in various ways, including instrumental variables,
the authors conclude that the “election survey data of Denmark, at least when pooled, reveal
a strong sociotropic economic voting effect that is stable, even exogenous. When an average
shift in these micro-economic evaluations is aggregated to the national level, it shows sub-
stantial change in the national electoral outcome, change that parallels the observed effects
from an average shift in macro-economic indicators such as GDP growth” (Lewis-Beck et
al. 2013).
This reconciliation of the micro-macro results, at least as demonstrated in the Danish case
(Lewis-Beck et al. 2013), appears to solve the long-standing Kramer (1983) problem, which
held that the error inherent in cross-sectional survey data prevents it from answering the
relevant questions about economic voting. (Specifically, Kramer contended these problems
arise due to the lack of variation in national economic conditions at the one point in time
when the survey is conducted.)
In addition, and more to the point for our purposes, this Lewis-Beck et al. (2013) study
avoids the micrological fallacy, which infers macro-patterns of economic-electoral fluc-
tuation solely from individual economic voting behavior (Dassonneville and Lewis-Beck
2012). That is, we now know that these macro-patterns generally emerge from the micro-
patterns recorded in the last section. In the section at hand, we devote ourselves to investi-
gating the extent to which the macro-study conclusions offered by N&P are supported by
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 375
current evidence. The first of these concerns the issue of model fit, and is addressed in the
following proposition:
10. The macro-models of economic voting have high R-squareds.
This N&P proposition still seems to hold, at least for single-nation studies. The single-
nation studies invariably analyze aggregate time series data, which generally tend to pro-
duce tighter fits than data assembled in other forms. As an illustration, consider the French
case. Lafay (1985,1991), a pioneer in developing French popularity functions, offers mod-
els with an R-squared =0.77 in an early study, and an R-squared =0.93 in a later study.
With respect to French vote functions, the adjusted R-squareds from three different mod-
els, respectively, can be reported: 0.65, 0.92, 0.71 (Lewis-Beck 1995,1997;Jérômeetal.
1999).2Turning to the British case, Sanders (2000) carried out an extensive examination of
popularity functions (1974–1997), reporting model R-squareds from 0.87 to 0.93, depend-
ing on which economic variables were included. A current popularity function investigation
of the United States (1960–2011, quarterly) gives an R-squared =0.83 (Fauvelle-Aymar
and Stegmaier 2013). With respect to the US presidential vote function itself, the Bread and
Peace model of Hibbs (2012: 636), yields an adjusted R-squared =0.85.
These fit statistics, while selective, do not appear atypical for single-nation macro-
models. However, we are more concerned about multi-nation macro-models, of which there
are fewer (Bellucci and Lewis-Beck 2011; Bengtsson 2004;Benton2005; Carlsen 2000;
Chappell and Veiga 2000;Fidrmuc2000; Pacek 1994; Pacek and Radcliff 1995;Paldam
1991; Powell and Whitten 1993; Remmer 1991; Roberts 2008;Tucker2001; Whitten and
Palmer 1999; Wilkin et al. 1997). These studies look at different regions of the world, focus-
ing mostly on advanced western nations. The investigation by Whitten and Palmer (1999), a
cross-national, European analysis of economic voting in the context of clarity of responsibil-
ity, yields model adjusted R-squareds from 0.83 to 0.93. Bellucci and Lewis-Beck (2011),
examining an aggregate time series pool of popularity functions (France, Germany, Italy, the
United Kingdom, the United States and Spain), find an adjusted R-squared =0.81 for their
preferred specification.
The fit statistics in these aggregated, cross-national models do not always reach such
elevated heights, however. For example, Roberts (2008), in his contemporary study of eco-
nomic voting in Central and Eastern European nations (ten countries, 34 elections) reports
that his best model yields an adjusted R-squared =0.48. Benton (2005), in an update of
Remmer (1991), investigates how macroeconomic change impacts incumbent support in
the Latin American region (39 elections, 13 countries). The R-squareds for her models of
change in the incumbent party’s support range between 0.67 and 0.70 (see Models 1 and 4).
Lesser model fits are not confined to comparative macro-studies of low-income democ-
racies, but sometimes result from the availability of comparable data across nations, how the
variables are measured, and what political controls are included. Paldam (1991) himself, in
an examination of Western industrial nations (17 countries, 197 elections), aims to explain
change in government vote support as a function of institutional and economic variables.
After extensive testing, his models manage R-squareds in the meager range of 0.00 to 0.09.
Wilkin et al. (1997), looking at economic voting in a world-wide sample of 38 nations, find
their best performing model, with just two independent variables, inflation and GDP growth,
yields a lowly R-squared =0.13. In stark contrast, Dassonneville and Lewis-Beck (2012),
examining macroeconomic effects on government coalition vote in a large European sample
2It is worth noting that the Standard Error of Estimate, in some ways a better measure of comparative model
fit, follows the same rank-order as these adjusted R-squareds.
Author's personal copy
376 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
(29 countries, 281 elections), accounting for a range of political factors, including previous
vote share, caretaker government, effective number of parties, and number of parties in gov-
ernment, find much higher fit levels. The following are fit estimates for their main model:
OLS =0.71; fixed effects =0.65; random effects (GLS) =0.70. What may we conclude,
then, about proposition 10? Two things: 1. Macro-models for a single nation tend to yield
high fit statistics. 2. Macro-models from multi-nation studies may or may not yield high fit
statistics, depending on how economic measures are constructed and the extent to which
political controls are included.
What macroeconomic variables count for shaping national election outcomes? N&P
wrestle with this question, and make the following conclusion, in proposition 11.
11. Unemployment and Inflation, but sometimes Growth, are the most important predictors.
Thus, N&P feature unemployment and inflation, in line with the founding popular-
ity function paper for the United Kingdom, that of Goodhart and Bhansali (1970), which
stresses the role of those two variables (not to mention a nod to the Phillips curve, an ar-
gument prevalent then). In a study conducted at about the same time on US congressional
elections, Kramer (1971) found that inflation, but even more importantly income, affected
seat shares for the party of the president. Nevertheless, it has become difficult to find pa-
pers that point to inflation as an important determinant. An exception, perhaps understand-
able, is Remmer’s (1991) study of Latin America, a region that has been plagued with in-
flation waves. (Although Singer’s (2013) investigation shows that this “inflation effect” in
Latin America has now dissipated). Less understandable is the recent study by Chappell and
Veig a (2000: 196), who carry out a pooled analysis of 13 Western European nations (136
elections), and report that their “strongest finding is that voters punish increases in inflation.
The unemployment variable, however, remains a lively contender. Fair (1978) identifies
the change in the unemployment rate and GNP growth as having meaningful effects on US
presidential vote shares. In their path-breaking work, Powell and Whitten (1993), examining
19 industrialized nations (and about 100 elections, 1969–1988), find that the key macro-
economic variables accounting for the government vote are unemployment and growth. It
has become increasingly clear that the electoral impact of unemployment change stands
decisive, according to the various pooled studies from Central and Eastern Europe (Fidrmuc
2000; Pacek 1994; Roberts 2008;Tucker2001).
With respect to the growth variable, it, too, has appeared as a prime driver, in multi-
national studies from different parts of the world: Latin America (Benton 2005); low-income
nations (Pacek and Radcliff 1995); Europe (Dassonneville and Lewis-Beck 2012)); a world-
wide sample (Wilkin et al. 1997). What, precisely, is the impact of economic growth? Benton
(2005: 430) suggests that a 1.0 percentage point decline in GDP will produce a 1.7 percent-
age point loss in the incumbent party vote. Wilkin et al. (1997: 307), arrive at a similar
estimate, claiming that “for every percentage point of GDP growth in the election year, [the
major incumbent] party stands to gain 1.4 percent of the vote.”
With respect to proposition 11, then, we would revise it slightly, arguing that now the
“big two” (N&P’s phrase) are unemployment and growth. What does this imply about the
relative importance of macroeconomic change for electoral outcomes? This leads to the next
N&P propositions, as follows:
12. The e-part (economics) is stronger than the p-part (politics).
13. The political variables are weakly measured.
We consider these two propositions together, since the extent to which political variables
are weakly measured could explain the relatively greater importance of the economic part.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 377
As is known, separating out the relative importance of, say, two independent variables, is
not easy. N&P sometimes imply that the e-part has more strength because it explains more
variance. However, statistically it is not possible to separate variance into uniquely explained
portions, unless the two variables are orthogonal, which they virtually never are. As a heuris-
tic, however, it is helpful initially to consider the class of vote functions from the aggregate
time series models used in the field of election forecasting.3These models are almost in-
variably of a simple structure, single equations with as few as two independent variables,
commonly one macro-economic and one macro-political variable. Take the elections most
often forecast, those of the US presidency. The bivariate correlations of economic growth
and presidential approval, respectively, with incumbent vote share have been reported at 0.69
and 0.84 (Lewis-Beck and Rice 1992: Chap. 2). These magnitudes suggest that, in fact, the
p-part has greater strength. However, as the literature on presidential approval has shown,
approval is shaped at least partly by economic growth (and, it cannot be ruled out that growth
maybe influenced by, although undoubtedly less so, approval). In that case, reciprocal cau-
sation exists, and the simple correlation comparison of effects breaks down. Thus, while it is
suggestive, it is by no means definitive, and illustrates the problem of ultimately evaluating
the comparative effects of the p- and e-parts.
That the e-part can be captured partly by the p-part has been demonstrated in recent elec-
tion forecasting models, where the small sample size necessitates parsimony. Nadeau et al.
(2009,2010) create two-step forecasting models for the United Kingdom and France. The
first step predicts the election result based on a lagged approval measure, without including
any economic measures. This approval measure serves as a proxy for the economic and po-
litical factors that shape it, which is the second step in a system of equations. Thus economic
and political conditions shape popularity, which in turn can be used to forecast the election
results accurately.
A further difficulty with an economics versus politics comparison, of course, comes from
the inevitable collinearity present in multiple regression equations based on observational
data. For example, when the two variables of economic growth and presidential approval
(noted above for the US case), are included in an ordinary least squares regression equation,
the R-squared =0.81. This magnitude itself suggests the two variables are intercorrelated,
as in fact they are, at r=0.48 (Lewis-Beck and Rice 1992: 34). Hence, there always exists a
portion of shared variance that cannot properly be assigned to either the e-part or the p-part.
Further, no study we know of has applied a step-wise approach to answer the question, e.g.,
remove from the model the e-part, and note the decrease in variance explained; return the
e-part and remove the p-part, and note again the decrease in variance explained; compare
the two decreases, with the larger one indicating the more important part. Of course, the
difficulty here is that stepwise regression violates the classical assumption of correct model
specification in the first place.
Another approach to sorting out relative importance involves comparing the magnitude
of the structural coefficients, one for economics and one for politics. This implies the same
number of e and p variables, which seldom occurs in extant models. Further, such compar-
ison of coefficients requires the variables to have the same measurement scale or for the
standardized coefficients to be reported.
Still, at the macro-level, there is yet another possibility, which occurs when the single-
equation model has the political dependent variable (of vote) lagged and included on the
3For current reviews of the election forecasting literature on the United States and other countries, see Lewis-
Beck and Tien (2011), Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier (2014), and the annotated bibliography of Stegmaier and
Norpoth (2013).
Author's personal copy
378 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
right-hand side of the equation as part of the specification, perhaps as a control for omitted
variables. The coefficient of this independent political variable (Vt1), can be compared to
the coefficient of the independent macroeconomic variable (Et1), if the two have the same
measurement. In the current investigation by Dassonneville and Lewis-Beck (2012), such a
comparison is possible, since they have the dependent variable (incumbent coalition parlia-
mentary vote share in percent) included also as a lagged independent variable (measured as
the incumbent coalitions’ vote share in the previous parliamentary election), next to a lagged
macroeconomic variable (GDP growth in percent for the year before the election). One sees
that for their preferred model (random effects GLS) the GDP coefficient =0.68, the lagged
incumbent coefficient =0.73. Thus, these p- and e-parts appear about equal in terms of
their impact, when either changes by one percentage point.4Further, we can say that both
are strongly, rather than weakly, measured. Moreover, we can argue that both variables are
global in character, each encompassing many components of their respective processes. Fi-
nally, we note that this comparative macro-study is the largest economic voting study of this
type. Even allowing for possible bias in the coefficient estimate of the p-part (because it is a
lagged dependent variable), the e-part would not likely appear stronger, as N&P conclude.
More nearly, they appear close to equal.
Because most of the macro-models are dynamic, it becomes possible to judge the effec-
tive time horizon of the economic voter. N&P offer the following proposition in that regard:
14. The voters are myopic, with a typical memory of one year.
At the macro-level, assuming annual aggregate time series data, this proposition implies
a lag structure of t1. However, at least in single-nation studies, the models, as estimated,
have employed varying lags. These differences had been of some concern in the literature,
because the inconsistencies generally do not seem to have a logical basis. Nevertheless, the
search for the preferred “lagged effects pattern, has been largely abandoned,” accordingly
to Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier (2000: 186). This conclusion appears to hold today. Conven-
tion has taken the place of the search, and virtually all macro-studies assume a short lag,
generally of one year. This convention has practical value, allowing more standardization
in comparison of effects (much like the convention of statistical significance at 0.05 allows
such comparison). The myopia assumption, as it were, does continue to prevail in the liter-
ature, as N&P assert; but it wants hard testing in order discover if it is indeed preferred.
With respect to the political contribution to the VP function, N&P have argued that gov-
ernments, by their (mis)deeds, tend to experience an erosion of support over time. They offer
the following proposition:
15. Incumbents incur a cost of ruling.
The idea is that governments pay a cost for being in office. Over time, they strike bargains
and create enemies, and their supporters become disillusioned and withdraw. The general
elections of the United Kingdom offer a good example. The government vote share can be
expressed as a function of government approval, economic performance, and time in office
(Lewis-Beck et al. 2004). The time in office variable, T, measures how many terms the party
has served; its coefficient estimate is 3.1, indicating that the government can expect to lose
about three percentage points when it runs for re-election.
4But, as we noted earlier with regard to the use of approval as an independent variable, here vote (t 1)
is influenced by the economic conditions leading up to that earlier election, underscoring the complexity
involved in identifying the strength of the p- and e-parts.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 379
What of the available comparative data? Paldam (1991: 19), employing a sample of 197
elections from advanced industrial democracies, estimates the “cost of ruling” as a loss of 1.6
percentage points in government vote share, from the previous election. What is a contem-
porary estimate? Dassonneville and Lewis-Beck (2012) have carried out the most current
and largest comparative VP study at the macro-level, on 284 elections from 29 European
countries. They find that at time t incumbent vote share (for all the parties in the coalition)
= 49.61, while at time t1=44.04, suggesting an average loss from one election to the
next of 5.57 percentage points. When this variable of incumbent vote share at t1 makes
itself part of the multivariate specification of incumbent vote share at t, they show that it
achieves a coefficient =0.68, which suggests that for every 10 percentage points of support
the government garnered in the last election, it can expect to lose about 3 percentage points
in the current election. Clearly, then, N&P’s proposition that it costs incumbents to rule still
holds; if anything, it is stronger than ever.
Last, but by no means least, is the N&P proposition about the variability of coefficients
in the VP function. They draw the following conclusion:
16. VP functions manifest a lack of stability.
In later work, Paldam asks “is the instability of the VP-function apparent or inherent?”,
going on to conclude that “Most of the observed instability is apparent, and can be taken ac-
count of by proper specification of institutional conditions” (Lewis-Beck and Paldam 2000:
119–120). We have already discussed how the number of government coalition parties can
influence clarity of responsibility and, ultimately, the strength of the economic vote. There
are, of course, other political or institutional contexts to consider. One concerns the arrange-
ment of executive power. To the extent that executive authority centralizes itself in a single
powerful ruler, the responsibility for managing the economy becomes less ambiguous.
As an example, consider the two-nation study by Lewis-Beck and Nadeau (2004), com-
paring the economic coefficient for the popularity of the French and the American presi-
dents, under changing executive arrangements. In particular, what happens when the system
moves from unified government to cohabitation5(the French case) or to divided government
(the American case)? They demonstrate that in France the presidential economic coefficient
registers 4.5 when there is no cohabitation, but only 1.6 under cohabitation (when the prime
minister’s economic coefficient rises from 2.7 to 5.1). For America, in contrast, divided gov-
ernment does not significantly alter the economic coefficient for the presidential popularity
function (Lewis-Beck and Nadeau 2004: 143). In sum, these institutional features may (or
may not) affect the economic vote; knowing of their existence and taking them into account
in the specification of the popularity function enables us to exchange the apparent instability
for stable structural explanation.
Another contextual factor is whether a country is governed by a single party or a coali-
tion. If there are coalitions, should the coalition parties collectively benefit from economic
growth, or do voters target specific parties within the coalition? Anderson (1995) compares
the economy’s impact on government approval in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany,
all countries with coalition governments. He concludes that for the coalitions as a whole, the
economy has a weak impact, but that voters instead assess the coalition partners separately
based on their issue priorities. In a more recent study based on survey data from six German
Bundestag elections, Debus et al. (2013) test the impact of positive economic assessments
on votes for (1) the incumbent coalition parties collectively, (2) the party of the Chancellor,
5Cohabitation is when the French President and Prime Minister hail from different political parties.
Author's personal copy
380 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
and (3) the party that controls the ministries of economics and finance. For the coalition
parties collectively, the economic vote exists in just three of the six elections. The economic
vote for the party controlling the key economic ministries is also unstable. However, the
consistent finding is that the Chancellor’s party reaps rewards in all six Federal elections
when voters evaluate the economy positively.
VP functions may also appear to generate unstable coefficients due to the fact that almost
all popularity studies have been for single nations, using different measures, lags, time pe-
riods and model specifications. Much of the noise from these differences can be eliminated
with consistent measurement, time period and specification, over a large sample. Bellucci
and Lewis-Beck (2011) take such steps in a recent paper, looking at a single popularity func-
tion estimated with the same measures on a large pooled time series from France, Germany,
Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They show that economic effects
are strong across the sample, and not influenced significantly by country context (once in-
stitutional features are controlled by a lagged dependent variable on the right-hand side). In
other words, with proper sampling, measurement and modeling, considerable stability in the
popularity function is observed.
Given the foregoing, we have to conclude that the original N&P proposition, arguing
for lack of stability of the VP function, would be better rephrased to read as follows: VP
functions tend to be rather stable, once relevant institutional features are incorporated into
the specification. The observed instability, in other words, is more apparent than real.
4 Summary and conclusions
We commemorate the publication twenty years ago of the pivotal VP-function review by
Nannestad and Paldam (1994). To structure our current review, at the same time providing
continuity with the N&P paper, we assess the conclusions they arrived at there. These con-
clusions, or propositions, number 16 and apply generally both to micro- or macro-studies.
As a summary, we list them all in Table 2, along with an assessment of whether or not they
are now supported, according to our overall assessment of the economic voting literature to
date. The first two propositions receive unambiguous support. These are perhaps the most
important propositions, for they establish the presence and strength of the economic vote in
democracies around the world.
What of the micro-studies? Clearly, the dominant form of economic voting is sociotropic,
a form which may be altruistic or self-interested and conditioned by the clarity of govern-
ment responsibility for economic policy, as N&P found (propositions 3, 6 and 7). However,
contrary to N&P, the sociotropic economic vote might also be prospective or even asym-
metric (evaluation of propositions 4 and 5). And, finally, with respect to the micro-level,
N&P were wrong about voters not having much knowledge of the economy (evaluation of
proposition 8). Voters do seem, in fact, to know a good deal about the state of the economy.
What about the macro-studies? At this level, N&P were the first to establish two im-
portant propositions that continue to hold. For one, the observed links between macroeco-
nomics and national election outcomes are buttressed by, indeed reflect, the micro-processes
by which individual economic voters arrive at their decisions. Thus, these two levels of anal-
ysis operate in tandem, rather than in opposition (proposition 9). For another, incumbents in
democracies have to pay a cost for ruling, in terms of votes lost when they run for re-election
(proposition 15). However, other macro-findings reported by N&P appear mixed now. They
seem to have been overly optimistic about the possibility of achieving high goodness-of-
fit statistics for the models studied (evaluation of proposition 10). As well, they seem to
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 381
Tab le 2 Nannestad and Paldam (1994) conclusions on VP-functions, with an assessment of their current
1. The economic vote almost always achieves statistical significance (+)
2. The economic vote almost always registers a strong effect (+)
3. Sociotropic economic voting has a greater impact than egotropic (+).
4. Retrospective economic voting has a greater impact than prospective (+/).
5. The economic vote is not asymmetric (+/).
6. Sociotropic economic voting is not necessarily self-interested (+).
7. The economic vote is influenced by interactions with political agents (+).
8. Voters do not have much knowledge about the economy ().
9. The macro-findings mirror the micro-processes of economic voting (+).
10. The macro-models of economic voting have high R-squared (+/).
11. Unemployment and Inflation, maybe Growth, are the important predictors (+/).
12. The e-part, economics, is stronger than the p-part, politics ().
13. The political variables are weakly measured ().
14. Voters are myopic, with a typical memory of one year (+/).
15. Incumbents incur an electoral cost of ruling (+).
16. VP-functions manifest a lack of stability ().
(+)=support for proposition in the literature; (+/)=mixed support for proposition in the literature;
()=lack of support for proposition in the literature
have exaggerated the predictive role of inflation, at the expense of growth (evaluation of
proposition 11). In addition, their sanguinity about voter myopia seems to rest more on
reflexive practice, than on actual testing of alternative time specifications (evaluation of
proposition 14).
With respect to the macro-studies, the most noteworthy errors come from their conclu-
sions that the e-part dominates the p-part, and that the models are unstable. What we see in-
stead is that, when both the economic and political variables are comparably measured, they
tend to have about equal weight, at least within the single-equation constraint (evaluation
of propositions 12 and 13).6Furthermore, once model specification takes into account the
relevant institutional and political features of the democratic system(s) under investigation,
the models appear inherently stable, functioning according to known structural imperatives
(evaluation of proposition 16).
Overall then, many of the N&P propositions are still standing, and these tend to be the
more important ones on the list. These amount to confirming that, generally speaking, the
economic vote, at the micro- or macro-levels, has statistical and substantive significance
in democratic political systems. Moreover, for the citizen, the economic vote can be char-
acterized as sociotropic and subject to changing institutional contexts that alter the clarity
of responsibility, and thus the weight, of the economic vote. We would ourselves add that,
rather than a sign of instability, these changing weights for the economic vote merely reflect
the choices a reasoning voter makes.
6When indirect effects and reciprocal links between economic and political variables are taken into account,
in systems of equations, this judgment may be qualified.
Author's personal copy
382 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
Acknowledgements The contributions of Martin Paldam to the fields of economics and political science
are many. For us, foremost are his contributions to economic voting, that is, to tracing out the lines of con-
nection between the economy and the democratic vote. His early work is well-represented in his seminal
paper with Peter Nannestad, a paper honored in the review at hand. Martin’s work was pioneering, and most
of his key findings have withstood the test of time as this review demonstrates. Moreover, his current efforts
continue to shape the research agenda of political economists the world over. To Martin Paldam we scholars
of economic voting owe a great debt.
Alvarez, R. M., & Nagler, J. (1995). Economics, issues and the Perot candidacy: voter choice in the 1992
presidential elections. American Journal of Political Science,39, 714–744.
Anderson, C. (1995). Blaming the government: citizens and the economy in five European democracies.
Armonk: M.E. Sharpe.
Anderson, C. J. (2000). Economic voting and political context: a comparative perspective. Electoral Studies,
19, 151–170.
Bélanger, É., & Meguid, B. M. (2008). Issue salience, issue ownership, and issue-based vote choice. Electoral
Studies,27, 477–491.
Bellucci, P., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (2011). A stable popularity function? Cross-national analysis. European
Journal of Political Research,50, 190–211.
Bengtsson, Å. (2004). Economic voting: the effect of political context, volatility and turnout on voters’ as-
signment of responsibility. European Journal of Political Research,43, 749–767.
Benton, A. L. (2005). Dissatisfied democrats or retrospective voters? Economic hardship, political institu-
tions, and voting behavior in Latin America. Comparative Political Studies,38, 417–442.
Blendon, R. J., Benson, J. M., Brodie, M., Morin, R., Altman, D. E., Gitterman, D., Brossard, M., & James,
M. (1997). Bridging the gap between the public’s and economists’ views of the economy. The Journal
of Economic Perspectives,11(3), 105–118.
Borre, O. (1997). Economic voting in Danish electoral surveys 1987–1994. Scandinavian Political Studies,
20, 347–365.
Bratton, M., Bhavnani, R., & Chen, T. H. (2012). Voting intentions in Africa: ethnic, economic or partisan.
Commonwealth & Comparative Politics,50, 27–52.
Campbell, J. E., Dettrey, B. J., & Yin, H. (2010). The theory of conditional retrospective voting: does the
presidential record matter less in open-seat elections? The Journal of Politics,72, 1083–1095.
Carlsen, F. (2000). Unemployment, inflation and government popularity—are there partisan effects? Electoral
Studies,19, 141–150.
Chappell, H. W. Jr., & Veiga, L. G. (2000). Economics and elections in Western Europe: 1960–1997. Electoral
Studies 19, 183–197.
Clarke, H. D., & Stewart, M. C. (1994). Prospections, retrospections, and rationality: the “bankers” model of
presidential approval reconsidered. American Journal of Political Science,38, 1104–1123.
Conover, P. J., Feldman, S., & Knight, K. (1986). Judging inflation and unemployment: the origins of retro-
spective evaluations. The Journal of Politics,48, 565–588.
Dassonneville, R., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (2012). Macroeconomics, economic crisis and electoral outcomes:
A national European pool. Paper presented at the Political Science Department, KU Leuven, Belgium
conference on Whatever Happened to Incumbency? November 22, 2012.
Debus, M., Stegmaier, M., & Tosun, J. (2013). Economic voting under coalition governments: Evidence from
Germany. Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Meeting, Chicago, IL. April
Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Duch, R. M. (2001). A developmental model of heterogeneous economic voting in new democracies. The
American Political Science Review,95, 895–910.
Duch, R. M. (2007). Comparative studies of the economy and the vote. In C. Boix & S. C. Stokes (Eds.), The
Oxford handbook of comparative politics (pp. 805–844). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Duch, R. M., & Stevenson, R. T. (2008). The economic vote: how political and economic institutions condition
election results. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Duch, R. M., & Stevenson, R. (2010). The global economy, competency, and the economic vote. The Journal
of Politics,72, 105–123.
Fair, R. C. (1978). The effect of economic events on votes for president. Review of Economics and Statistics,
60, 159–172.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 383
Fauvelle-Aymar, C., & Stegmaier, M. (2013, forthcoming). The stock market and U.S. presidential approval.
Electoral Studies.
Fernández-Albertos, J. (2006). Does internationalization blur responsibility? Economic voting and economic
openness in 15 European countries. West European Politics,29, 28–46.
Fidrmuc, J. (2000). Economics of voting in post-communist countries. Electoral Studies,19, 199–217.
Fiorina, M. (1981). Retrospective voting in American national elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Fournier, P., Blais, A., Nadeau, R., Gidengil, E., & Nevitte, N. (2003). Issue importance and performance
voting. Political Behavior,25, 51–67.
Goodhart, C. A. E., & Bhansali, R. J. (1970). Political economy. Political Studies,18, 43–106.
Haller, H. B., & Norpoth, H. (1997). Reality bites: news exposure and economic opinion. Public Opinion
Quarterly,61, 555–575.
Hellwig, T. (2001). Interdependence, government constraints, and economic voting. The Journal of Politics,
63(4), 1141–1162.
Hellwig, T. (2010). Elections and the economy. In L. LeDuc, R.G. Niemi, P. Norris (Eds.), Comparing democ-
racies 3: elections and voting in the 21st century (pp. 185–201). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Hetherington, M. (1996). The media’s role in forming voters’ national economic evaluations in 1992. Ameri-
can Journal of Political Science,40, 372–395.
Hibbs, D. A. (2012). Obama’s reelection prospects under “bread and peace” voting in the 2012 US presiden-
tial election. PS, Political Science & Politics,45, 635–639.
Holbrook, T., & Garand, J. (1996). Homo economus? Economic information and economic voting. Political
Research Quarterly,49, 351–375.
Jérôme, B., Jérôme, V., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (1999). Polls fail in France: forecasts of the 1997 legislative
election. International Journal of Forecasting,15, 163–174.
Key, V. O. (1966). The responsible electorate. New York: Vintage.
Kiewiet, D. R. (1983). Macroeconomics and micropolitics: the electoral effects of economic issues. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Kiewiet, D. R., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (2011). No man is an island: self-interest, the public interest, and
sociotropic voting. Critical Review,23(3), 303–319.
Kinder, D. R., & Kiewiet, D. R. (1981). Sociotropic politics: the American case. British Journal of Political
Science,11, 129–161.
Kramer, G. H. (1971). Short-term fluctuations in US voting behavior, 1896–1964. The American Political
Science Review,65, 131–143.
Kramer, G. (1983). The ecological fallacy revisited: aggregate- versus individual-level findings on economics
and elections, and sociotropic voting. The American Political Science Review,77, 92–111.
Lafay, J.-D. (1985). Important political change and the stability of the popularity function: before and after
the French general election of 1981. In H. Eulau & M. S. Lewis-Beck (Eds.), Economic conditions and
electoral outcomes: the United States and Western Europe (pp. 78–97). New York: Agathon.
Lafay, J.-D. (1991). Political diarchy and popularity functions: lessons from the 1986 French experience. In
H. Norpoth, M. S. Lewis-Beck, & J.-D. Lafay (Eds.), Economics and politics: the calculus of support
(pp. 123–139). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Lau, R. R. (1985). Two explanations for negativity effects in political behavior. American Journal of Political
Science,29, 119–138.
Lewin, L. (1991). Self-interest and public interest in Western politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lewis-Beck, M. S. (1986). Comparative economic voting: Britain, France, Germany, Italy. American Journal
of Political Science,30, 315–346.
Lewis-Beck, M. S. (1988). Economics and elections: the major western democracies. Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press.
Lewis-Beck, M. S. (1995). Comparaison de prévision des élections présidentielles en France et aux États-
Unis. Journal de la Société de Statistique de Paris,136(1), 29–45.
Lewis-Beck, M. S. (1997). Who’s the chef? Economic voting under a dual executive. European Journal of
Political Research,31, 315–325.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Nadeau, R. (2004). Dual governance and the economic vote: France and the United
States. In M. S. Lewis-Beck (Ed.), The French voter: before and after the 2002 elections (pp. 136–154).
Houndmills: Basingstoke.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Nadeau, R. (2009). Obama and the economy in 2008. PS, Political Science & Politics,
43, 479–483.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Paldam, M. (2000). Economic voting: an introduction. Electoral Studies,19(2–3),
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Ratto, M. C. (2013, forthcoming). Economic voting in Latin America: a general model.
Electoral Studies.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Rice, T. W. (1992). Forecasting elections. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Author's personal copy
384 Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. (2000). Economic determinants of electoral outcomes. Annual Review
of Political Science,3, 183–219.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. (2007). Economic models of voting. In R. Dalton, & H.-D. Klingemann
(Eds.), The Oxford handbook of political behavior (pp. 518–537). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. (2008). The economic vote in transitional democracies. Journal of
Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 18, 303–323.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. (2009). American voter to economic voter: evolution of an idea. Elec-
toral Studies 28, 625–631.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. (2014, forthcoming). Election forecasting, scientific approaches. In
J. Rokne, & R. Alhajj (Eds.), The encyclopedia of social network analysis and mining.NewYork:
Lewis-Beck, M. S., Stubager, R., & Nadeau, R. (2013, forthcoming). The Kramer problem: micro-macro
resolution with a Danish pool. Electoral Studies.
Lewis-Beck, M. S. & Tien, C. (2011). Political and election forecasting. In M.P. Clements, & D.F. Hendry
(Eds.), The Oxford handbook of economic forecasting (pp. 655–671). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., Nadeau, R., & Bélanger, É. (2004). General election forecasts in the United Kingdom: a
political economy model. Electoral Studies,23, 279–290.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., Nadeau, R., & Elias, A. (2008). Economics, party and the vote: causality issues and panel
data. American Journal of Political Science,52, 84–95.
Lockerbie, B. (1992). Prospective voting in presidential elections, 1956–1988. American Politics Quarterly,
20, 308–325.
MacKuen, M. B., Erikson, R. S., & Stimson, J. (1992). Peasants or bankers? The American electorate and the
U.S. economy. The American Political Science Review,86, 597–611.
Mueller, J. E. (1973). War, presidents and public opinion. New York: Wiley.
Nadeau, R., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (2001). National economic voting in U.S. presidential elections. The Jour-
nal of Politics,63, 159–181.
Nadeau, R., Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Bélanger, É. (2009). Election forecasting in the United Kingdom: a two-
step model. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties,19, 333–358.
Nadeau, R., Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Bélanger, É. (2010). Electoral forecasting in France: a multi-equation
solution. International Journal of Forecasting,26, 11–18.
Nadeau, R., Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Bélanger, É. (2013, forthcoming). Economics and elections revisited.
Comparative Political Studies.
Nadeau, R., Niemi, R. G., & Yoshinaka, A. (2002). A cross-national analysis of economic voting: taking
account of the political context across time and nations. Electoral Studies,21, 403–423.
Nannestad, P., & Paldam, M. (1994). The VP function: a survey of the literature on vote and popularity
functions after 25 years. Public Choice,79, 213–245.
Nannestad, P., & Paldam, M. (1997). From the pocketbook of the welfare man: a pooled cross-section study
of economic voting in Denmark, 1986–92. British Journal of Political Science,27, 119–136.
Nannestad, P., & Paldam, M. (2000). Into Pandora’s box of economic evaluations: a study of the Danish
macro VP-function, 1986–1997. Electoral Studies,19, 123–140.
Norpoth, H. (1996a). The economy. In Laurence LeDuc, Richard G. Niemi, & Pippa Norris (Eds.), Com-
paring democracies: elections and voting in global perspective (pp. 299–318). Thousand Oaks: Sage
Norpoth, H. (1996b). Presidents and the prospective voter. The Journal of Politics,58, 776–792.
Pacek, A. C. (1994). Macroeconomic conditions and electoral politics in East Central Europe. American
Journal of Political Science,38, 723–744.
Pacek, A. C., & Radcliff, B. (1995). The political economy of competitive elections in the developing world.
American Journal of Political Science,39, 745–759.
Paldam, M. (1991). How robust is the vote function? A study of seventeen nations over four decades. In H.
Norpoth, M. S. Lewis-Beck, & J. D. Lafay (Eds.), Economics and politics: the calculus of support (pp.
9–31). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Paldam, M. (2004). Vote and popularity functions. In C. K. Rowley & F. Schneider (Eds.), The encyclopedia
of public choice (pp. 49–59). New York: Kluwer Academic.
Powell, G. B. Jr., & Whitten, G. D. (1993). A cross-national analysis of economic voting: taking account of
the political context. American Journal of Political Science 37, 391–414.
Price, S., & Sanders, D. (1995). Economic expectations and voting intentions in the UK, 1979–1989: a pooled
cross-section approach. Political Studies,43, 451–471.
Remmer, K. (1991). The political impact of economic crisis in Latin America in the 1980s. The American
Political Science Review,85, 777–800.
Roberts, A. (2008). Hyperaccountability: economic voting in Central and Eastern Europe. Electoral Studies,
27, 533–546.
Author's personal copy
Public Choice (2013) 157:367–385 385
Sanders, D. (2000). The real economy and the perceived economy in popularity functions: how much do
voters need to know? A study of British data, 1974–97. Electoral Studies,19, 275–294.
Singer, M. M. (2011). Who says “It’s the economy”? Cross-national and cross-individual variation in the
salience of economic performance. Comparative Political Studies,44, 284–312.
Singer, M. M. (2013). Economic voting in an era of non-crisis: the changing electoral agenda in Latin Amer-
ica, 1982–2010. Comparative Politics,45, 169–185.
Soroka, S. N. (2006). Good news and bad news: asymmetric responses to economic information. The Journal
of Politics,68, 372–385.
Stegmaier, M., & Lewis-Beck, M. S. (2013, forthcoming). Economic voting. In R. Valelly (Ed.), Oxford
bibliographies in political science. New York: Oxford University Press.
Stegmaier, M., & Norpoth, H. (2013, forthcoming). Election forecasting. In R. Valelly (Ed.), Oxford bibli-
ographies in political science. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tucker, J. A. (2001). Economic conditions and the vote for incumbent parties in Russia, Poland, Hungary,
Slovakia, and the Czech Republic from 1990 to 1996. Post-Sov iet Aff airs,17(4), 309–331.
Van der Brug, W., Van der Eijk, C., & Franklin, M. (2007). The economy and the vote: economic conditions
and elections in fifteen countries. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Whitten, G. D., & Palmer, H. D. (1999). Cross-national analyses of economic voting. Electoral Studies,18,
Wilkin, S., Haller, B., & Norpoth, H. (1997). From Argentina to Zambia: a world-wide test of economic
voting. Electoral Studies,16, 301–316.
Wlezien, C., Franklin, M., & Twiggs, D. (1997). Economic perceptions and vote choice: disentangling the
endogeneity. Political Behavior,19, 7–17.
Author's personal copy
... Importantly, such sociotropic evaluations of how well the economy is performing, trump self-interested motivations (i.e., which party may defend my economic preferences) (Lewis-Beck & Stegmaier, 2013). This suggests that citizens can look beyond their narrow self-interest, and are concerned about how well their society in general is doing. ...
... Following the economic voting literature, we use a binary dependent variable, indicating whether a voter voted for an incumbent party (code 1) or an opposition party (code 0) (see Lewis-Beck & Stegmaier, 2013). If the government of a country consisted of a coalition of parties, a vote for any of these parties is coded as supporting the incumbent government. ...
... We also control for some standard sociodemographic variables (age, gender, marital status, and union membership). Finally, we include some more politicallyoriented variables: the respondents' perceptions of corruption and satisfaction with the economy, which both are important drivers of political support, and vote choices (Lewis-Beck & Stegmaier, 2013;Uslaner, 2008Uslaner, , 2018. ...
... In this chapter, we analyse one particular economic factor to explain populist vote in national elections: unemployment. The literature assesses that unemployment, as well as GDP growth and inflation, are the main explanations for the economic vote (Whiteley, 1980;Fiorina, 1981;Hibbs, Fassbender, and Rivers, 1981;Nannestad and Paldam, 1994;Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier, 2013). ...
... This echoes the debate about the analysis of macro variables in VP-functions at a finer geographical level (see for exampleLewis-Beck andStegmaier, 2013 andDavid, Pilet, andVan Hamme, 2018). ...
This thesis seeks to empirically explain the rise of populism in advanced democracies. We focus our analysis on the demand of populism, materialised by populist vote, but also more generally by populist attitudes. The first chapter studies the link between income inequality and one aspect of populist attitudes, namely distrust of democracy. We find that greater income inequality corresponds to lower support for democracy and stronger support for alternative regimes (military, autocratic or technocratic). Furthermore, we highlight a partisan effect amplifying this relationship: at a given level of income inequality, as they are more sensitive to income inequality than right-wing partisans, left-wing partisans are also less supportive of democracy. The second chapter aims to test whether unemployment only explains populist vote in general or whether it also explains the distinction between right-wing and left-wing populist votes. By analysing the French presidential elections, we show that unemployment actually leads voters to choose any populist parties but that the choice between right-wing and left-wing populisms is exclusively determined by the voters' own explanation of unemployment. Finally, the third chapter examines the relationship between European funds and populist vote in EP elections since 2004. We provide major evidence of the negative link between EU funds and populist vote, regardless of the populist nature of the national/regional incumbent.
... We know that voter's evaluation of incumbents, expressed either through electoral support (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2000) or government approval in surveys (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2013), is partially driven by the economy. However, although "the (real) economy matters", "its effects are weak and contain little explanatory power" (Van der Brug, Van der Eijk, and Franklin 2007, 180). ...
This research note investigates how different sources of economic information affected citizens’ approval of the government in Portugal from 2001 to 2018. It compares the predictive power of the revised and most accurate data on GDP growth with other economic indicators that were available to the public at the time, such as the first estimates of recent growth and the forecasts of future growth. It finds that approval is best predicted by information about forecasted growth for the current year. These results provide further indirect evidence that the state of the economy, as it plays out directly in people’s lives and experiences, may be less consequential for evaluations of the government than the mediated information about it that is conveyed to the public.
Studies show that cash transfer programs increase incumbent approval through their financial impact and clear association with the executive. But does this effect hold when it is the legislature rather than the incumbent proposing the program? Amid the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, more than 60 million Brazilians received an emergency assistance payment that was proposed by Congress against resistance from the executive. This study leverages this unique case to examine if cash transfer programs affect presidential approval under circumstances of unclear responsibility. Survey results showed that while approval ratings increased, the public was divided about who was responsible for the program. Moreover, a survey-experiment that informed respondents about the negotiations between the president and Congress found that information improves views about Congress but does not affect presidential approval. The results suggest that even cash transfer programs may promote limited vertical accountability in contexts of unclear policy responsibility.
La aprobación del mandatario de turno ha constituido un predictor razonablemente confiable del éxito o la derrota del partido en el gobierno en Costa Rica. Para comprobarlo se conformó una muestra que abarcó los comicios presidenciales celebrados entre 1982 y 2022. Los resultados sugieren que el votante costarricense tiende a premiar o castigar al candidato presidencial oficialista en dependencia de la percepción que tienen sobre el desempeño del mandatario de turno. Los comicios de 1990 y 1994 constituyeron excepciones de esa dinámica. Ambas experiencias son analizadas a la luz de la experiencia comparada.
How do centralized governments mitigate the political cost of severe financial crises? The economic voting scholarship has established that the clarity of responsibility, i.e., government accountability for economic conditions to the mass public, is a necessity for electoral reward or punishment for economic performance. On the one hand, political centralization, which reduces the number of veto players, may increase the visibility of the role of the executive in policy success or failure. On the other hand, it allows an uncontested blame avoidance discourse, especially when accompanied with democratic backsliding. Furthermore, the recent backlash against globalization has enabled blame shifting to international actors in many countries. Against this theoretical framework, we comparatively analyze the responsibility attribution discourses for the 1994, 2001, and 2018-2022 financial crises in the statements of incumbent presidents, ministers, and parliament members of Turkey. We find that while blame avoidance discursive strategies have been attempted in all three cases, the responsibility attribution for the 1994 and 2001 crises mostly targeted the executive. In contrast, for the ongoing crisis, the responsibility discourse is dominated with blaming international political economy factors, creating ambiguity, and targeting domestic non-governmental actors.
Full-text available
Social democratic parties have experienced considerable electoral decline recently, which has often been attributed to their rightward policy movement. This paper advances this literature by examining who benefits from this moderation strategy and who is abandoning the social democrats. It does so by analyzing aggregate-level election results and individual-level Comparative Study of Electoral Systems data, on a sample of 21 advanced democracies, over 327 elections, from 1965 to 2019. I find little support for the assertion that social democrats are defecting to one party. However, in agreement with the spatial theory of party competition, results reveal that the radical left increasingly and significantly benefit from social democratic economic rightward positions, which is magnified when combined with rightward sociocultural positions. This predominantly occurs because left-leaning voters migrate to the radical left. The findings provide notable ramifications for party strategy and contribute to explanations for the rise of challenger parties, at the expense of mainstream parties.
Full-text available
COVID-19 created profound shockwaves across the Union, pushing supranational crisis policymaking to the forefront of European politics and fostering an unprecedented expansion in fiscal solidarity with which to support the economic recovery ahead. This development lends pertinence to a contemporary reappraisal of the main determinants underlying individual support for European solidarity and its implications to the consolidation of a political basis for a supranational solidaristic space. Using an original large-N survey dataset and employing a fixed-effects linear regression analysis, this paper empirically reviews ideal-type theoretical predictions for individual support for European solidarity by conducting a comparative assessment of their correlates' explanatory power in the new pandemic context. First, I contend individuals reason in supranational terms as key political attitudes driving individual support for cross-border solidarity are informed directly at the supranational level, consubstantiating the claim that European redistribution operates as a distinct legitimate space for solidarity in its own right. Second, I argue that utilitarian motivations linked to expectations of material amelioration are better predictors of support for solidarity than cultural explanations emphasising national identity or attitudes towards immigration. Third, I suggest that preferences concerning European solidarity are better captured by political divides over economic redistribution rather than over cultural concerns, but only among more cosmopolitan-oriented individuals. In any event, cultural factors are still relevant predictors of support for solidarity, particularly among nationalists. The final section interprets these findings by discussing how the correspondence between public expectations and institutional supply of supranational redistributive instruments to respond to the pandemic may contribute to strenghten political support for European solidarity and the EU polity itself.
The literature on government popularity focuses on security and prosperity as two key factors that shape government evaluation. While a recent wave of studies explores the impact of these factors on public support in non-democratic countries, the Arab World is one region that has received relatively little scholarly attention. Beginning with the Arab Uprisings, ongoing national crises have created myriad security challenges for governments and led to greater political instability. Since under these conditions citizens tend to be more uncertain about the political environment, it is unclear how those who are concerned about security challenges can decide whether to reward or punish the incumbent government. This study proposes that individuals may use information about the economy to make a decision concerning the security-popularity linkage. Using individual-level data from 13 countries in the Arab World from 2010 to 2019, we find that citizens are more likely to reward or punish the government for security issues (external and internal) if their judgement is aligned with their economic sentiment.
Full-text available
Issue importance mediates the impact of public policy issues on electoral decisions. Individuals who consider that an issue is important are more likely to rely on their attitudes toward that issue when evaluating candidates and deciding for whom to vote. The logic behind the link between issue importance and issue voting should translate to a link between issue importance and performance voting. Incumbent performance evaluations regarding an issue should have a stronger impact on the vote choice of individuals who find that issue important. The analysis demonstrates that there is a significant interaction between performance evaluations and issue importance. People concerned about an issue assign more weight to their evaluations of the government's performance on that issue when making up their mind.
Economic conditions are said to affect election outcomes, but past research has produced unstable and contradictory findings. This book argues that these problems are caused by the failure to take account of electoral competition between parties. A research strategy to correct this problem is designed and applied to investigate effects of economic conditions on (individual) voter choices and (aggregate) election outcomes over 42 elections in 15 countries. It shows that economic conditions exert small effects on individual party preferences, which can have large consequences for election outcomes. In countries where responsibility for economic policy is clear, voters vote retrospectively and reward or punish incumbent parties - although in coalition systems smaller government parties often gain at the expense of the largest party when economic conditions deteriorate. Where clarity of responsibility for economic policy is less clear, voters vote more prospectively on the basis of expected party policies.
This book proposes a selection model for explaining cross-national variation in economic voting: Rational voters condition the economic vote on whether incumbents are responsible for economic outcomes, because this is the optimal way to identify and elect competent economic managers under conditions of uncertainty. This model explores how political and economic institutions alter the quality of the signal that the previous economy provides about the competence of candidates. The rational economic voter is also attentive to strategic cues regarding the responsibility of parties for economic outcomes and their electoral competitiveness. Theoretical propositions are derived, linking variation in economic and political institutions to variability in economic voting. The authors demonstrate that there is economic voting, and that it varies significantly across political contexts. The data consist of 165 election studies conducted in 19 different countries over a 20-year time period.
Economic voting has become a major paradigm for understanding electoral processes, especially in advanced industrial democracies. Voters in these nations routinely punish governments for economic downturn, or reward them for economic boom. Two such democracies have received special attention — France and the United States. As Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier (2000: 205) observe, in their exhaustive review of the economic voting literature, these two countries are “the most commonly studied.” For both nations, there are numerous investigations of individual opinion surveys or aggregate time series demonstrating that economic variables matter for presidential and legislative election outcomes. But, missing from most of these investigations are institutional features and their influence on the economic vote. For example, the “economy coefficient,” from whatever measure, usually offers itself as a direct general effect, unconditioned by different political rules. Our special concern here is how the institution of what we broadly label dual governance (i.e. cohabitation in France, divided government in the US), conditions the economic vote.
This article looks at comparative studies of the economy and the vote and is divided into three major parts. The first portion provides a summary of the four important contributions of economic voting research. This is where the work on the American economic vote and economic voting are reviewed. The second portion suggests one methodological approach for analyzing the numerous existing surveys, modeling cross-national variation, and measuring the magnitude of the economic vote. The third and final portion provides a brief summary of the contextual theory of the economic vote from Duch and Stevenson, which builds the assumption of instrumentally rational voters.
Theories of presidential elections (economic voting and spatial issue and ideology models), combined with the popular explanation of "angry voting," are used to account for voter choice in the 1992 presidential election. Voter choice in this three-candidate race is a function of economic perceptions, issue and ideological positions of voters and candidates, or voter anger. Multinomial probit analysis of 1992 National Election Studies data including individual-specific and alternative-specific variables. Simulations based on counterfactual scenarios of ideological positions of the candidates and of voter perceptions of the economy. The economy was the dominant factor in accounting for voter decisions in 1992, and Clinton, not Perot, was the beneficiary of economic discontent. While issues (mainly abortion) and ideology did play some role, Clinton was not perceived by the electorate as a New Democrat. We find little support for the hypothesis of angry voting. Last, Perot took more votes from Bush than from Clinton.
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
A basic question in the analysis of the economic voting of the individual is whether the decision to vote for the government is sociotropic or determined by the pocketbook? It is sociotropic if the voter considers the whole of the economy. It is pocketbook voting if people look at their personal economic circumstances. fn2 The question has remained at the centre of research in economic voting since it was first raised by Kinder and Kiewiet in 1979. fn3 Over the years, it has generated a sizeable number of empirical studies, mostly based on American data, as well as a fair share of disagreement. From a theoretical viewpoint it is not obvious whether economic man is a sociotropic or a pocketbook voter. There is a strong argument for both assumptions: ([alpha]) the pro-pocketbook argument suggests that homo economicus pursues his own interest or that of his household, and votes with his pocketbook; ([beta]) the proto-sociotropic argument suggests that voters consider what governments try to accomplish. They do not try to steer the economy of any individual, but the economy of the country.
Theory: In terms of economic voting, voters' perceptions of economic indicators can be more important than the statistics themselves. This distinction is particularly important in understanding George Bush's defeat in 1992. Hypothesis: Relentlessly negative reporting on economic performance during the election year negatively affected voters' perceptions of the economy. These altered perceptions influenced voting behavior. Methods: Ordinary least squares regression is used to demonstrate the media's impact on economic evaluations. Logistic regression is used to demonstrate the importance of economic evaluations in vote choice. Results: Media consumption and attention to the presidential campaign through the mass media negatively shaped voters' retrospective economic assessments. These assessments were significantly related to vote choice. This suggests an explanation for why George Bush lost reelection despite an economy that had rebounded from recession well in advance of election day.