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Published June 1981 | public
Journal Article

Policy-Oriented Voting in Response to Economic Issues


This study explores the hypothesis that voting in response to economic problems is policy-oriented: voters concerned about unemployment ore predicted to give greater support to Democratic candidates, while those concerned about inflation are predicted to vote more Republican. In light of evidence from previous research, this study investigates the electoral effects of inflation and unemployment as (1) problems directly experienced by the individual, and (2) problems deemed serious for the nation as a whole. Support is strongest for the unemployment side of the hypothesis. Voters personally affected by unemployment gave a modest boost to Democratic candidates in virtually every election. And in years of high unemployment the large percentage of voters who fell it was a serious national problem voted heavily Democratic as well. This study concludes by discussing the important implications these findings have for our understanding of how economic conditions influence voting behavior in American national elections.

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© American Political Science Association 1981

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August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023