A Two-Stage Model of the Effect of Economic Conditions on Election Outcomes

By Levernier, William | Atlantic Economic Journal, June 1992 | Go to article overview

A Two-Stage Model of the Effect of Economic Conditions on Election Outcomes


Levernier, William, Atlantic Economic Journal


I. Introduction

A commonly held political-economic belief is that macroeconomic conditions are an important determinant of election outcomes. A growing economy is typically thought to benefit the incumbent party, while a declining economy is typically thought to benefit the opposition party.

The above hypothesis has been widely tested in the economic and political science literature during the last 30 years.(1) Most of the literature examines the effect of economic conditions on the outcome of U. S. congressional elections [Arcelus and Meltzer, 1975; Erikson, 1990; Jacobson, 1990; Kramer, 1971; Rees et. al, 1962; Stigler, 1973; Tufte, 19751 or the effect of economic conditions on presidential elections [Fair, 1978; Galeotti and Forcina, 1989!. Other papers relate economic conditions to election outcomes in Canada [Archer, 1987; Archer and Johnson, 1988; Happy, 1986] and Western Europe [Lewis-Beck, 1986]. Only fairly recently, however, have economists and political scientists begun to study the impact of economic conditions on U.S. gubernatorial elections [Adams and Kenny, 1989; Chubb, 1988; Peltzman, 1987; Stein, 1990!.

Despite the existence of a large number of studies on the subject, there is no consensus as to whether or not economic conditions actually affect election outcomes. Some researchers have found economic conditions to be important determinants of election outcomes [Chubb, 1988; Fair, 1978; Happy, 1986; Kramer, 1971; Rees et. al, 1962; Tufte, 1975!, while others have not [Adams and Kenny, 1989; Arcelus and Meltzer, 1975; Erikson, 1990; Peltzman, 1987; Stigler, 19731.

Heretofore, a weakness of most of the literature is that voting is implicitly treated as a one-stage process, whereby an individual simply decides whether to support the incumbent party or the opposition party. In reality, though, voting is a two-stage process, whereby an individual must first decide whether or not to vote. Only after the decision is made to participate in the voting process can the decision of which candidate to support be made.

In this paper, the influence of economic conditions on gubernatorial elections is examined. Elections are treated as a two-stage process in the framework of Arcelus and Meltzer [1975]. The specific purpose of this paper is to determine the influence of economic conditions on voter participation rates and on election outcomes in gubernatorial elections. The results of this study indicate that economic conditions, as measured by per capita income growth, significantly affect the voter participation rate, but that economic conditions have only a minor effect on the share of the vote received by the candidate representing the incumbent party.

II. A Model of Voter Participation Rates and Election Outcomes

The classic model of individual voting behavior was developed by Riker and Ordershook [1968]. In the Riker-Ordershook model, the individual is viewed as a rational decision maker who will participate in voting if the expected benefits of voting exceed the cost of voting. The expected benefits of voting are determined by the individual's perceived probability of affecting the election outcome and by the increase in his utility that will result if the candidate he votes for wins the election. The cost of voting is the time and money cost involved in obtaining information on the candidates and in going to the polling location.

(A) A Model of Voter Participation Rate

The Riker-Ordershook model implies that the likelihood of an individual voting increases as the cost of voting decreases and as the expected benefits increase. The cost of voting is likely to be lower when an incumbent or former candidate is running for office. If an incumbent or former candidate is a contestant in an election, voters will already have some knowledge about the contestant from having observed him in office and in prior campaigns. In this situation, the cost of acquiring information about the contestant is very low and may, in fact, approach zero. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Two-Stage Model of the Effect of Economic Conditions on Election Outcomes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.