Who Do Americans Trust With The Economy? How Economic Performance Predicts State Legislative Election Outcomes

Open Access
Klavans, Jordan Andrew
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Zachary Baumann, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • economy
  • state election
  • economic voting
  • predict
  • incumbency
  • partisan advantage
  • state economies
  • campaign
  • recession
  • voter behavior
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • politics
The importance of national economic conditions on presidential and congressional voting decisions is well-documented in political science literature; however, comparatively less is known about the importance of these same factors on state legislative elections. Building on previous research, I explore the role of state economies on state legislative election results. I hypothesize that state economic conditions motivate decisions made by voters at the ballot box. Under poor economic conditions, I expect that turnover rates in each chamber will be higher, races will be more competitive, and voters will be more likely to support Democratic candidates. Using data from all fifty states from 1980 through 2010, I examine legislative contests in both upper and lower chambers. My results provide support for most of these expectations. State economic conditions influence state legislative races with voters more likely to seek change in weak economic climates. These results contribute to our understanding of state legislative elections, voting behavior, and the role of the economy in shaping political outcomes.