Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Fiscal Policy Outcomes and Electoral Accountability in American States

  • Robert C. Lowry (a1), James E. Alt (a2) and Karen E. Ferree (a2)

Clear fiscal policy effects appear in American state gubernatorial and legislative elections between 1968 and 1992, independent of the effects of incumbency, coattails, term limits, and macroeconomic conditions. The results show that accountability is generally stronger following a period of unified party control than under divided government. Voter reactions to taxes and spending relative to the state economy are conditional on expectations, which differ for each party. Net of these expectations, Republican gubernatorial candidates lose votes if their party is responsible for unanticipated increases in the size of the state budget; Democrats do not and, indeed, may be rewarded for small increases. Independent of this, the incumbent governor's party is punished in legislative elections for failing to maintain fiscal balance. Taken together, these results show how electoral accountability for fiscal policy outcomes is strong but highly contingent on a complex configuration of party labels, partisan control, expectations, and institutions.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Alberto Alesina , and Roberto Perotti . 1995. “The Political Economy of Budget Deficits.” IMF Staff Papers 42(March):131.

Christopher Anderson . 1995. “The Dynamics of Public Support for Coalition Governments.” Comparative Political Studies 28(October):350–83.

Robert Barro . 1974. “Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?Journal of Political Economy 82(November/December):1095–117.

Donald C. Baumer , and Howard J. Gold . 1995. “Party Images and the American Electorate.” American Politics Quarterly 23(January):3361.

Tamim Bayoumi , Morris Goldstein , and Geoffrey Woglom . 1994. “Do Credit Markets Discipline Sovereign Borrowers? Evidence from U.S. States.” Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 27(November):1046–59.

Timothy Besley , and Anne Case . 1995a. “Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 110(August): 769–98.

Thomas M. Carsey , and Gerald C. Wright . 1998. “State and National Factors in Senatorial and Gubernatorial Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 42(July):9941002.

Barry Eichengreen , and Tamim Bayoumi . 1994. “The Political Economy of Fiscal Restrictions: Implications for Europe from the United States.” European Economic Review 38(April):783–91.

John Ferejohn . 1986. “Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control.” Public Choice 50(1–3):525.

William Keech . 1995. Economic Politics: The Costs of Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Susan L. Kone , and Richard F. Winters . 1993. “Taxes and Voting: Electoral Retribution in the American States.” Journal of Politics 55(February):2240.

Peter Nannestad , and Martin Paldam . 1994. “The VP-function: A Survey of the Literature on Vote and Popularity Functions after 25 Years.” Public Choice 79(3–4):213–45.

Richard G. Niemi , Harold W. Stanley , and Ronald J. Vogel . 1995. “State Economies and State Taxes: Do Voters Hold Governors Accountable?American Journal of Political Science 39(November):936–57.

Sam Peltzman . 1992. “Voters as Fiscal Conservatives.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107(May):329–61.

G. Bingham Powell , and Guy Whitten . 1993. “A Cross-National Analysis of Economic Voting: Taking Account of the Political Context.” American Journal of Political Science 37(May):391414.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 6 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 237 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.