Economic Voting: A Campaign-Centered Theory, Austin Hart
This book is a worthwhile contribution to the literature on elections. It begins with an important question: why do economic models of elections fail so often? Austin Hart focuses on why voters seem to base their votes on economic conditions—but only some of the time. He aims to explain aggregate election outcomes while drawing on data and ideas about individual voters—a tricky enterprise, but executed well in this book. The analysis is theoretically informed, and it presents an excellent model for how to research and write about American electoral politics in a comparative context. It is clearly written and presented in a straightforward manner, making it an ideal choice for graduate or advanced undergraduate courses as well as an important read for scholars in the field.
Hart's main argument is that campaigns can “activate” economic considerations in the minds of voters. Candidates and their campaigns can also choose to deemphasize messages about the economy in favor of other considerations, such as democracy (as in Mexico's 2000 election) or candidate traits.
The real strength of this book is that the author leverages subnational, cross-temporal, and cross-national comparisons to test the theory. This allows him to address challenging questions of whether campaign messages make a difference in how voters evaluate ca
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