Economics, Party, and the Vote: Causality Issues and Panel Data

Authors


  • There are many individuals and institutions we wish to acknowledge, including Paolo Bellucci and the Political Science Department, University of Siena, the Tuesday seminar (Siena, October 2006); Marina Costa Lobos and the Institute for Social Science conference on Portuguese Elections (Lisbon, March 2007); Marta Fraile and the Political Science Department, Autonomous University of Madrid, graduate elections seminar (Madrid, April 2007); Ray Duch and the Politics Section, Nuffield College, Oxford, conference on electoral context (Oxford, June 2007). Thanks go to them for their suggestions. Of course, all errors appearing are our own responsibility.

Michael S. Lewis-Beck is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished professor of political science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52245 (michael-lewis-beck@uiowa.edu). Richard Nadeau is professor of political science, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montreal QC H3C 3J7. Angelo Elias is PhD student in political science, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montreal QC H3C 3J7.

Abstract

Conventional wisdom argues that national economic perceptions generally have an important impact on the vote choice in democracies. Recently, a revisionist view has arisen, contending that this link, regularly observed in election surveys, is mostly spurious. According to the argument, partisanship distorts economic perception, thereby substantially exaggerating the real vote connection. These causality issues have not been much investigated empirically, despite their critical importance. Utilizing primarily American, and secondarily British and Canadian, election panel surveys, we confront directly questions of the time dynamic and independent variable exogeneity. We find, after all, economics clearly matters for the vote. Indeed, once these causality concerns are properly taken into account, the impact of economic perceptions emerges as larger than previously thought. As well, the actual impact of partisanship is clearly reduced.

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