Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published October 1998 | Published
Journal Article Open

Economics, Entitlements, and Social Issues: Voter Choice in the 1996 Presidential Election


Theory: Contemporary theories of presidential election outcomes, especially the economic voting and spatial issue voting models, are used to examine voter choice in the 1996 presidential election. Hypotheses: First, we look at the effects of voter perceptions of the national economy on voter support for Clinton. Second, we look at the effects of candidate and voter positions on ideology and on a number of issues. Last, we examine whether voters' views on other issues-social issues such as abortion as well as issues revolving around entitlements and taxation that were emphasized by the campaigns-played significant roles in this election. Methods: We employ multinomial probit analysis of the 1996 National Election Studies data and simulations based on counterfactual scenarios which are based on different perceptions of macroeconomic conditions and issue platforms of candidates. Results: The effects of economic perceptions are much greater than the effects of voter issue positions on the election outcome. This behavior by voters leaves presidents substantial room to shirk on policy issues. But, some social issues, namely abortion, play a role in determining the election outcome. The presence of a third centrist candidate limited the ability of other candidates to improve their vote shares by moving in the issue space.

Additional Information

© 1998 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. This is one of many joint papers by the authors on multiparty elections; the ordering of their names reflects alphabetic convention. We thank Alan Abramowitz, Tara Butterfield, and Garrett Glasgow for their comments. A previous version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., August, 1997. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants SBR-9709327 to Alvarez and SBR-9413939 and SBR-9709214 to Nagler. The datasets and computer code used to produce the results reported here can be obtained from the ICPSR article replication archive or from http://www.hss.caltech.edu/-rma/research.html. Formerly SSWP 1021.

Attached Files

Published - sswp1021_-_published.pdf


Files (1.3 MB)
Name Size Download all
1.3 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 23, 2023