Economic voting through boom and bust: information and choice at Irish General Elections, 2002–2011

Patrick Bernhagen, Heinz Brandenburg

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Abstract

A considerable body of research exists on the economic and informational determinants of voting behaviour. However, unresolved questions remain about the relationship between these two factors. While economic voting is generally understood as a matter of prospective evaluation carried out on the basis of retrospective cues available to voters, the extent to which prospective information matters for vote choice remains unclear, in particular if it conflicts with retrospective experience. How do different sources of information compete to affect vote choice and evaluations of incumbents? Specifically, how do voters evaluate incumbents if past economic performance has been good but predictions about the near future are bleak? In this chapter we address this question by analysing the economic and informational determinants of vote choice at three successive Irish elections: the last two general elections before the fiscal and economic collapse and the first election following the meltdown. Jointly, these elections form a quasi-experimental case study of economic votingthatenablesustoinvestigatewhethertheextenttowhichvotersreward the government for facilitating an economic boom is affected by warnings about precarious foundations and predictions of economic decline. To analyse this potentially contingent relationship we link media content data in the context of the elections with survey data from the Irish National Election Study (INES). The three election campaigns are marked by significant variation in the amount (and, for two elections, in the tone) of economic
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Conservative Revolution?
Subtitle of host publicationElectoral Change in Twenty-First Century Ireland
EditorsMichael Marsh, David M. Farrell, Gail McElroy
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages42-60
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780198744030
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • economic voting
  • media effects
  • information
  • voting behaviour
  • voting behavior
  • media
  • economic conditions
  • Irish National Elections
  • economic collapse

Cite this

Bernhagen, P., & Brandenburg, H. (2017). Economic voting through boom and bust: information and choice at Irish General Elections, 2002–2011. In M. Marsh, D. M. Farrell, & G. McElroy (Eds.), A Conservative Revolution?: Electoral Change in Twenty-First Century Ireland (pp. 42-60). Oxford University Press.