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Published December 1984 | public
Journal Article

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 — has raised several interesting and important questions. The answers that 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 that have hindered previous research: the dynamic formulation of expectations and preferences, the incidence of policy (and nonpolicy) effects across the population, and notions of incumbency and political responsibility.

Additional Information

© 1984 Agathon Press, Inc. Acknowledgments. Though we alone bear responsibility for the contents of this paper, we have benefited 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.

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August 22, 2023
October 17, 2023