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The Effect of Aggregate Economic Variables on Congressional Elections*

  • Francisco Arcelus (a1) and Allan H. Meltzer (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2014

This paper uses rational voting behavior as an organizing device to develop a framework within which to consider the effect of economic aggregates on voters. Unlike most previous studies, ours permits the voter to vote for candidates of either party or to abstain. A principal finding is that the effect of the main economic aggregates on the participation rate is much clearer than the effects on either party. Our results deny that an incumbent administration can affect the control of Congress by stimulating the economy. Voters appear to make judgments about inflation, unemployment and economic growth. We investigated on the basis of long-term, not short-term performance.

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We are indebted to Jay Kadane and Timothy McGuire for helpful comments, to Gerald Kramer for finding errors in our data, and to the National Science Foundation for financial support. An earlier version was presented at the 1973 meeting of the American Political Science Association.

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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.

C. A. E. Goodhart and R. J. Bhansali , “Political Economy,” Political Studies, 18 (1970), 43106

William H. Riker and Peter C. Ordeshook , “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting,” American Political Science Review, 62 (03, 1968), 2542

Michael J. Shapiro , “Rational Political Man: A Synthesis of Economic and Social Psychological Perspectives,” American Political Science Review, 63 (12, 1969), 1106-19

Valdimer O. Key , “A Theory of Critical Elections,” Journal of Politics, 17 (1955), 318

Martin J. Bailey , “The Welfare Cost of Inflationary Finance,” Journal of Political Economy, 64 (04, 1956), 93110

Arnold Zellner , “An Efficient Method of Estimating Seemingly Unrelated Regressions and Tests for Aggregation Bias,” Journal of the American Statistical Association, 57 (1962), 348-68

Arnold Zellner and David S. Huang , “Further Properties of Efficient Estimators for Seemingly Unrelated Regression Equations,” International Economic Review, 3 (1962), 300313

Arnold Zellner , “Estimators for Seemingly Unrelated Regression Equations: Some Exact Finite Sample Results,” Journal of The American Statistical Association, 58 (12, 1963), 977-92

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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