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The Objective and Subjective Economy and the Presidential Vote

  • Robert S. Erikson (a1) and Christopher Wlezien (a2)

The importance of the economy in US presidential elections is well established. Voters reward or punish incumbent party candidates based on the state of the economy. The electorate focuses particularly on economic change, not the level of the economy per se, and pays more attention to late-arriving change than earlier change. On these points there is a good amount of scholarly agreement (see e.g., Erikson and Wlezien 1996; Hibbs 1987). There is less agreement, however, on what specific indicators matter to voters. Some scholars rely on income growth, others on GDP growth, and yet others on subjective perceptions (see Abramowitz 2008; Campbell 2008; Holbrook 1996b; also see Campbell and Garand 2000). In our work, we have used the index of leading economic indicators, a composite of ten variables, including the University of Michigan's index of consumer expectations, stock prices, and eight other objective indicators.

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James E. Campbell 1996. Polls and Votes: The Trial Heat Presidential Election Forecasting Model, Uncertainty, and Political Campaigns.” American Politics Quarterly 24: 408–33.

Robert S. Erikson , and Christopher Wlezien . 2008b. “The Economy and the Presidential Vote: What Leading Indicators Reveal Well in Advance.” International Journal of Forecasting 24: 218–26.

Robert S. Erikson , and Christopher Wlezien . 2012. The Timeline of Presidential Elections: How Campaigns Do (and Do Not) Matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Thomas Holbrook . 1996b. “Reading the Political Tea Leaves: A Forecasting Model of Contemporary Presidential Elections.” American Politics Research 24: 506–19.

Christopher Wlezien , and Robert S. Erikson . 1996. “Temporal Horizons and Presidential Election Forecasts.” American Politics Quarterly 24: 492–50.

Christopher Wlezien , and Robert S. Erikson . 2002. “The Timeline of Presidential Election Campaigns.” Journal of Politics 64: 969–93.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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