Economies and Politics: Egocentric or Sociotropic?

  • Brad Lockerbie


Since at least the late 1970s, we have had to grapple with the question of how economics influences politics. Before scholars made use of extensive survey research, most observers, noting the relationship between the state of the economy and election outcomes, argued that individual voters were driven by their own financial concerns. Using survey data, scholars found that individual economic concerns were not strongly related to vote choice. The work of Kinder and Kiewiet (1979, 1981) further upset this consensus by showing that voters were more concerned with the collective than their own concerns. The research presented here, making use of the rather unique 1992 ANES, argues that voters are concerned with both. The apparent non-existent relationship between egocentric economic evaluations and political evaluations is the result of question wording. When appropriately worded egocentric and sociotropic economic survey items are put in equations predicting political phenomena, both are important.


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