Sigelman, Lee; Sigelman, Carol K.; Bullock, David
June 1991
Political Behavior;Jun1991, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p129
Academic Journal
Despite its deep theoretical roots, the idea that voters reward or punish incumbents in national elections for trends in their personal financial circumstances has not fared well when subjected to empirical test. This paper poses an experimental test of the leading explanations for the surprisingly weak showing of pocketbook influences on vote choice. According to certain of these explanations, the answer lies in distinguishing between sociotropic and self-interested economic voting, or between retrospective and prospective economic voting, or between perceptions of economic trends in general and perceptions of the electorally relevant component of these trends. However, expectations based on these explanations are generally not borne out in the laboratory setting. Consistent with the observed pattern of effects, however, is the idea that pocketbook voting displays little independent impact because economic perceptions and attributions are epiphenomena- strongly biased by the voter's preexisting political commitments.


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