Feeling good and changing one's mind: A longitudinal investigation of voters' economic evaluations and partisan choices

R. J. Johnston*, C. J. Pattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Economic models of voting proved very successful at predicting party choice in Great Britain during the 1980s and early 1990s, providing strong support for a reward/punish hypothesis of electoral behaviour: government parties were rewarded by support from those who felt well off and were optimistic, but were punished with removal of support by those feeling worse off and economically pessimistic. This paper extends those analyses, using a pioneering longitudinal study of British adults over the period 1991-4, during which the government party (Conservative) became increasingly unpopular, despite an improving economic record. Analyses show that although the party was rewarded by continuing support from its voters who were prospering and lost support among those who were not, it failed to win support from those who initially favoured the opposition parties and yet were feeling well off. This suggests that the reward/punishment model was operating in an asymmetric way. Attempts to fit similar models to the strength, and changing strength, of party identification were largely unsuccessful, however.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalParty Politics
Volume5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Keywords

  • Electoral behaviour
  • Feelgood factor
  • Longitudinal data
  • Party identification
  • Reward/punishment

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