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Published September 19, 2017 | Submitted
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A Retrospective on Retrospective Voting


This paper critically reviews the extensive literature on retrospective voting in response to economic conditions. Each of the major types of analyses which have been performed—time series analyses of national vote totals, presidential popularity, and cross-sectional analyses of individual survey responses—have raised several interesting and important questions. The answers which have been obtained, however, are only partial and limited, as each of these approaches entails serious problems of estimation and interpretation. Further progress in this area, we argue, requires explicit treatment of conceptual and statistical issues which have hindered previous research: the dynamic formulation of expectations and preferences, the incidence of policy (and nonpolicy) effects across the population, notions of incumbering and political responsibility.

Additional Information

Though we alone bear responsibility for the contents of this paper, we have benefitted from conversations over the past few years on this topic with Morris Fiorina, Douglas Hibbs, Donald Kinder, and Gerald Kramer. The National Science Foundation provided research support under grant SES-8309994. Published as Kiewiet, D. Roderick, and Douglas Rivers. "A retrospective on retrospective voting." Political behavior 6.4 (1984): 369-393.

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August 19, 2023
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