Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Blame, not just poor economy, needed to impact voting


People facing economic hard times are more likely to vote when they believe government is at fault

Contrary to previous research indicating that people who are enduring financial hardship are less likely to vote, a study at Rice University suggests this is not always the case.
"Data from the American National Election Studies demonstrate that those facing economic adversity are more likely to vote when they blame the government for economic outcomes," said Kevin Arceneaux, a political science research assistant at Rice, whose findings were published in Political Research Quarterly.

"One of the oldest clichés in politics is that what matters most is turnout – who gets out to vote on election day," he said. The belief was that people with money woes are more worried about their finances than about casting a ballot, so on election day they’re busy trying to make money and won’t take time to go to the polls. Although such people are more likely to prefer the political party who is not in office when the economy is bad, their preference is not registered because they don’t vote. After reading these conclusions in a 1994 paper by political scientist Ben Radcliff, Arceneaux thought the argument was interesting, "but it didn’t square with how I thought things worked," he said.

Arceneaux reviewed five studies based on election results between 1990 and 1998. He found that when people in economic distress think the government caused the problems with the economy, not only are they more likely to vote, they are more likely to vote against the incumbent party.

"When the economy goes in the dumps, the White House needs to watch out, because the people who are hurting for money will express their dissatisfaction with the government at the ballot box," Arceneaux said.

He cited the 1992 election as an example: Bill Clinton did a good job of staying on message – "It’s the economy, Stupid" – and used the high misery index (unemployment plus inflation) to convince the majority of voters that the nation’s economic problems were George Bush Sr.’s fault.

Arceneaux acknowledged that Radcliff was right in one respect: Those who face economic hardship but don’t blame the government are, in fact, less likely to vote. But since they don’t blame the government, they are not more or less likely to vote against the incumbent.

The implications of Arceneaux’s findings are that when the economy is bad, the opposition party has to do whatever it can to convince voters that the current administration is at fault. "In 2004, if the economy is still like it is now, the Democrats would do well to say that George W. Bush is responsible," Arceneaux said. "And Bush needs to do everything possible to blame someone else for the poor economy, such as terrorists, the war or the business cycle."

Arceneaux said his findings are not too surprising. "Sometimes the role of science is to demonstrate the obvious."

Having just received a Ph.D. in political science from Rice, Arceneaux is now pursuing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, where he will be part of a research team that uses field experiments to measure the impact of different types of messages and media on voter turnout, as well as other forms of political behavior.

B.J. Almond | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>