Polarized Parties and the Presidential Vote: The Macroeconomic Foundations of Modern Presidential Elections

29 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 20 Aug 2012

See all articles by Irwin L. Morris

Irwin L. Morris

University of Maryland - College Park

Dror Yuravlivker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Using macroeconomic data to predict presidential elections is a cottage industry in political science, a cottage industry with a long history. During the time period which is the focal point for the study of the macroeconomic dynamics of presidential elections, partisan polarization has increased dramatically at the mass and elite levels.

Recent research suggests that partisans have a biased perception of current economic circumstances and future economic outlooks; voters tend to have more positive assessments of the economic and its prospects when fellow partisans control the government than when opposing partisans control the government (Bartels 2000 and 2002; Lewis-Beck et al. 2008; and Wilcox and Wlezien 1996). Recent research indicates that these assessment biases are directly linked to differing perceptions of the economic policymaking competence of the two parties (Gerber and Huber 2010). To the extent this is the case, we should expect that increased partisan attachment should mitigate the extent to which opposing partisans would be willing to support a presidential candidate from the other party regardless of the economic circumstances. From this perspective, the increase in bias associated with growing polarization should mitigate the effects of actual economic circumstances on elections. Using data from the 1948-2008 time period, we assess the empirical support for this theoretical contention. We find evidence that increasing polarization mitigates the impact of economic fundamentals on presidential election outcomes.

Keywords: presidential elections, political economy, polarization, macroeconomic politics

Suggested Citation

Morris, Irwin L. and Yuravlivker, Dror, Polarized Parties and the Presidential Vote: The Macroeconomic Foundations of Modern Presidential Elections (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108081

Irwin L. Morris (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Dror Yuravlivker

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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