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The Political Conditioning of Subjective Economic Evaluations: The Role of Party Discourse

  • Sergi Pardos-Prado and Iñaki Sagarzazu
Abstract

Classic and revisionist perspectives on economic voting have thoroughly analyzed the role of macroeconomic indicators and individual partisanship as determinants of subjective evaluations of the national economy. Surprisingly, however, top-down analysis of parties’ capacity to cue and persuade voters about national economic conditions is absent in the debate. This study uses a novel dataset containing monthly economic salience in party parliamentary speeches, macroeconomic indicators and individual survey data covering the four last electoral cycles in Spain (1996–2011). The results show that the salience of economic issues in the challenger’s discourse substantially increases negative evaluations of performance when this challenger is the owner of the economic issue. While a challenger’s conditioning of public economic evaluations is independent of the state of the economy (and can affect citizens with different ideological orientations), incumbent parties are more constrained by the true state of the economy in their ability to persuade the electorate on this issue.

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Merton College, University of Oxford; School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow (emails: sergi.pardos@merton.ox.ac.uk, inaki.sagarzazu@glasgow.ac.uk). The order of the authors’ names reflects the principle of rotation. Both authors have contributed equally to all work. The authors would like to thank Guy Whitten, John Ishiyama, Paul Collins, Jae-Jae Spoon, Randy Stevenson, Sarah Birch, Phillip Habel, Raymond Duch, Geoffrey Evans, James Tilley, Ernesto Calvo, Timothy Hellwig, Alessandro Nai, the participants of the Martin Colloquium at the University of North Texas Political Science Department, at the European Union Center Seminar at Texas A&M University, the Comparative and American Politics Seminar at Rice University, and the Political Science Seminar at the University of Houston, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback and comments. Online appendices and data replication sets are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi: 10.1017/S0007123414000428.

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