Divided Government and Economic Voting



With one party in charge of the presidency and the other one in charge of Congress, how are American voters supposed to allocate credit and blame for the government's economic performance? The following solutions are proposed and tested: Hung Jury, where voters refuse to render an economic judgment on either president or Congress; Split Verdict, where voters reach separate judgments depending on whichever party is in control of a given branch; President Liable, where the electorate solves the responsibility problem by singling out the President and absolving Congress; and Congress Liable, with the roles of president and Congress reversed. The results show that the President Liable model wins easily under varying configurations of divided government as well as economic conditions. Divided government poses no noticeable obstacle for retrospective voting on the economy.