Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Short-Term Fluctuations in U.S. Voting Behavior, 1896–1964*

  • Gerald H. Kramer (a1)

This study is an attempt to employ some simple statistical models, motivated by certain assumptions about voting akin to those discussed by Downs and others, in an attempt to explain short-term fluctuations in the division of the national vote for the U. S. House of Representatives, over the period 1896–1964. The models will yield quantitative estimates of the impact of economic conditions on congressional elections, and of the effects of incumbency and presidential “coattails” as well.

The notion that a vote represents a decision or rational choice between alternatives is an important theme in democratic theory. However, this rationality hypothesis has proved to be difficult to test empirically, particularly with survey data, from which most of our recent knowledge of individual voting behavior is drawn. The present study is an attempt to put a modified form of the rationality hypothesis to a different and in some respects more direct test than is readily possible with survey data.

The analysis bears directly on the substantive question of the relationships between economic conditions and U. S. national election results.

Hide All
Anthony Downs , An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper, 1957)

Louis H. Bean , Ballot Behavior (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1940), p. 63n

T. Wilkinson and H. Hart , “Prosperity and Political Victory,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 14 (1950), 331335, at pp. 332, 334

Clark Tibbits , “Majority Votes and the Business Cycle,” American Journal of Sociology, 36 (1931), 596606

W. F. Ogburn and L. C. Coombs , “The Economic Factor in the Roosevelt Elections,” this Review, 34 (1940), 719736, at pp. 719–720

Tjalling C. Koopmans , “Identification Problems in Economic Model Construction,” in W. C. Hood and T. C. Koopmans (eds.), Studies in Econometric Method (New York: Wiley, 1953)

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: 1 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 103 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 8th April 2017 - 19th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.