Which politicians do voters blame for the down economy?

August 17, 2010

A down economy usually spells trouble for incumbents, but a new Brigham Young University study shows that six Republicans up for re-election this year caught a break when John McCain lost the last presidential election.

The analysis found that some voters are less objective (and more forgiving) in evaluating their governor's economic performance if the White House is controlled by the opposing political party.

"When there is an easy chance for people to pass the blame onto a party they don't like, they'll take it," said Adam Brown, an assistant professor of at BYU.

The study, which appears in the current issue of The Journal of Politics, found that whenever the president and the governor belong to opposing parties, voters will overestimate the policy success of the level of government their preferred party controls. This means that members of the governor's party will paint a rosier picture of their state's economy when the White House is controlled by a member of an opposing party.

Take a current political situation as an example: Since President Obama is a Democrat and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is a Republican, Utah Republicans are two to three times more likely to blame the poor economy on the president than if McCain were president. They're also likely to say Utah's economy is outperforming that of the nation—by more than the data may show. By contrast, Utah Democrats are likely to do exactly the opposite, blaming Gov. Herbert instead of President Obama.

Brown used the economy, measured by unemployment rates, as an example of an unclear policy outcome because it's difficult or even impossible for most voters to determine which level of government affects it the most.

"The economy is the haziest, but it also drives approval and elections way more than anything else," Brown said.

Interestingly, Brown found the effect of unemployment on gubernatorial approval to be three to four times stronger among members of the president's party than among members of the governor's party. That is, members of the governor's party are more willing to ignore poor economic performance when evaluating the governor than members of the president's party.

Political scientists have long debated if people are capable of being objective when evaluating candidates, or if they simply toe party lines when they get to the polls. Brown's findings imply that voters are more likely to be objective when evaluating areas where responsibilities are clearer, or when the president and the governor are of the same party.

"People can be objective as long as there's not a partisan reason not to be objective," Brown said.

For the study, Brown looked at previous research in years in which the economy was down, giving him the chance to see how people assign blame and estimate .

As for why voters rely on partisan cues when assigning blame for policy outcomes, Brown has one hypothesis.

"We just like to protect what we believe," Brown said.

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1 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2010
Well if the progressive media would evaluate what Obama has done objectively and not try and spin it, every democrat would be voted out of office. However since a lot of people believe what they hear from ABC, NBC, CNN, the newspapers, etc. a lot of people arn't aware that the economic disaster was caused by progressive policies that conservatives have been warning about for the last 15 years.

By the way, democrats have been in power for the last 4 years, they just had Obama for the last 2.

Are we better off than we were 4 years ago? How about 2 years ago?
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2010
Perhaps this latest excess will put the nails in the Coffin of Keynesian economics? You cannot spend/borrow/tax your way out of a recession/depression.

Now if, in 2009, the pResident had taken the 750 billion dollar "stimulas" and said, federal income tax moratorium for two years; where would the economy be today? Stupid Socialists.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2010
This stimulus was in no way an example of Keynesian policies. Those policies would have suggested that the government use that money to directly employ the unemployed, forgive the debt burdens shouldered by the poor and middle-classes, and improve the national infrastructure, not bail out billionaires so they could continue holding the rest of us over a barrel.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2010
I find it increasingly hilarious that those who tell us that a free market economy will save the economy, are the same who frown on socialistic initiatives.

What economy is showing the largest growth and consistently posting positive numbers? The Socialist republic of China.
1 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2010
characterize China as a state-dominated economy with a mercantilist, rather than free-trade, orientation. This remains at odds with the WTO's free trade objectives. Economists in the West also remain skeptical about China's unorthodox economic policies and resistance to full market liberalization. They caution that a future collapse is a real possibility.

China achieved such economic growth by adopting some free market policies.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2010
Very first line of your source shows that your source does not support you.

China's reformed economy has embraced market capitalism for over 25 years, but its staggering growth may be related to continuing communist control.

Read more at Suite101: China's Economic Model: Marxism and the Market http://global-eco...wyP32Wmx
From your very own source.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2010
This stimulus was in no way an example of Keynesian policies. Those policies would have suggested that the government use that money to directly employ the unemployed, forgive the debt burdens shouldered by the poor and middle-classes, and improve the national infrastructure, not bail out billionaires so they could continue holding the rest of us over a barrel.


Fiscal Policy, as opposed to Monetary Policy is, by definition, Keynesian.

Other dooDs

China's economy is a bubble. A series of bubbles. They may burst tomorrow, or they may wait 5 years, but they will burst.

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