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Political Science in Europe

Economic Voting: Valence Models and New Frontiers

Electoral Behaviour
Public Opinion
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Stephen Quinlan
GESIS, Leibniz
Panel Discussant
Theresa Reidy
University College Cork

25/08/2018 14:00 - 15:40
Building: VMP 5 Floor: 2 Room: 2098
“It’s morning again in America”. Ronald Reagan’s infamous campaign commercial in the 1984 US Presidential campaign focused voters’ attention on a key tenet of his campaign: the improving economy. For Mr Reagan’s campaign was tapping into conventional wisdom which assumes that economics shape election outcomes. The traditional means of exploring this relationship has been the valence model which posits that voters who perceive the economy is performing well vote for the incumbent but conversely play vengeful god when they think it is doing badly and thus dismiss the incumbent administration. Scores of research has shown that this valence model holds in a variety of contexts and circumstances, such that economic voting is accepted by most to be a key, if not the key determinant of elections.

Despite the proliferation of valence economic studies, questions remain. While much ink has been spilt documenting that the valence model varies in strength by context, most of this research is based on studies before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). The GFC, however, was a pivotal event in world history demonstrating the fragilities in the global economic system but highlighting the power of international players such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in determining economic policy. As such, research on the impact of the GFC and the role these seminal players had in shaping the response to the Crisis and how this might have influenced voter economic opinions and vote calculus is relatively limited and requires further exploration.
Moreover, there has been an appreciation by the academic community that we need to move beyond the traditional valence voting models if we are to answer lingering questions. There is developing literature that accepts economic voting is multidimensional (e.g., Nadeau et al. 2010; Lewis-Beck et al. 2013), the premise being that economics can shape vote choice in other ways besides voter judgments regarding the national economy. One possible way is that voters have economic policy positions that influence how they vote, be it positions on income distribution or government spending etcetera. However, research on this dimension is in its infancy and is scant, especially from a comparative perspective.

In seeking to address the gaps identified above, this panel brings together comparativist voting scholars with the following objectives: 1) to develop the traditional valence economic model, especially in light of the Global Financial Crisis; and 2) to forge new frontiers by exploring economics influence on vote choice beyond the valence model. The first two papers speak to the first question while the latter two contributions focus on the second issue. All papers take a quantitative and cross-national approach and utilise survey data. Some supplement their analysis with country-level data and media content data, thus offering a comprehensive and rich analysis of economic voting from a multitude of perspectives.

Paper List

Title Details
A Cross-National Analysis of the Positional Economics Thesis View Paper Details
Positional Voting in Times of Crisis: Europeans’ Response to Fiscal Austerity View Paper Details
The Consequences of Politicisation of the EU in the Media for Voting Behaviour, 2002-2017 View Paper Details
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