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February 7, 2012
Pocketbook variables are almost always good indicators of electoral outcomes.
Political scientists have long known that “pocketbook issues” strongly affect the fortunes of presidents and other political leaders. Economists studying this relationship have established that certain economic factors—such as growth in income, inflation, and unemployment—directly affect the votes of the incumbent party in the presidential elections. Other institutional factors, such as the number of terms a party has occupied the oval office, also appear to affect voting patterns.
On February 7, the Hauenstein Center presented one of the nation’s leading experts on economic conditions and voter behavior, economist Patrick L. Anderson. Mr. Anderson will outline the “pocketbook” model of American voting behavior in U.S. presidential elections, which included only economic and institutional factors largely known in advance of the election. The model explained about 75 percent of the variation of the popular vote in presidential elections since 1916. In 2004, the National Association of Business Economists awarded Mr. Anderson and his co-author Ilhan Geckil for “outstanding writing in business economics” for their article “Pocketbook Issues and Presidential Elections,” which outlines this approach.
The track record of this simple model in recent elections is remarkable. In 2000, it suggested a very close election, with the incumbent party gaining a tiny plurality of the popular vote. In 2004, it indicated that economic conditions favored a narrow re-election for the incumbent President. In 2008, the same model suggested that the incumbent party would lose the White House. Thus, in the last three elections, the “pocketbook” model proved quite accurate in predicting the actual voting behavior of the American electorate.
In this presentation, Patrick L. Anderson outlined what the “pocketbook” model says about the 2012 national election, as well as discuss how states like Michigan tend to react to economic conditions by “voting their wallet.”
Anderson, along with co-author Ilhan Geckil, intends to update their 2012 election analysis as economic data for 2012 become available. These updates will be available at www.AndersonEconomicGroup.com. Please click here for the November 2011 preview release.