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Published June 2000 | public
Journal Article

Measuring the relative impact of issues and the economy in democratic elections


It is generally accepted that issues and economic outcomes influence elections. In this paper we analyze the relative importance of issues and the economy in Canadian elections. We estimate a model of the 1988 and 1993 Canadian elections in which we include voter evaluations of the parties on a variety of issues, and voter evaluations of the national economy and their personal finances. We demonstrate that it is possible to compare the effects of issues and the economy on election outcomes. And we put this in the context of the impact of issues and elections in several other democracies. We show that even in elections where other factors are dominant, we can still see the impact of economic voting. And we argue that given the tenuous connection between the actions of elected officials and macroeconomic outcomes, this suggests that voters may be giving elected officials undue leeway in their non-economic policy-making functions.

Additional Information

© 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. Available online 7 February 2000. Prepared for presentation at the 1998 Conference on Economics and Elections in Denmark. We thank participants at that conference, and Langche Zeng for helpful comments. Alvarez's work was supported by the National Science Foundation through SBR-9709327; Nagler's work was supported by the National Science Foundation through SBR-9413939 and SBR-9709214; and facilitated by his time in residence at the Center for Basic Research in Social Science at Harvard University.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023