Political Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 203–228 | Cite as

Participation in the Wake of Adversity: Blame Attribution and Policy-Oriented Evaluations

  • Ines LevinEmail author
  • J. Andrew Sinclair
  • R. Michael Alvarez
Original Paper


In this paper we investigate to what extent perceptions of economic conditions, policy-oriented evaluations, and blame attribution affected Californians’ involvement in political activities in 2010. We use a statistical methodology that allows us to study not only the behavior of the average citizen, but also the behavior of “types” of citizens with latent predispositions that incline them toward participation or abstention. The 2010 election is an excellent case study, because it was a period when citizens were still suffering the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis and many were concerned about the state’s budgetary crisis. We find that individuals who blamed one of the parties for the problems with the budget process, and who held a position on the 2010 Affordable Care Act, were often considerably more likely to participate. We also find, however, that the impact of economic evaluations, positions on the health care reform, and blame attributions was contingent on citizens’ latent participation propensities and depended on the class of political activity.


Economic adversity Policy-oriented evaluations Health care reform Blame attribution Budget process Political participation Civic engagement 



Alvarez and Sinclair thank The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation for their support of the collection of the 2010 California survey data used in this paper, and for their support of research associated with that project.

Supplementary material

11109_2015_9316_MOESM1_ESM.docx (239 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 239 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ines Levin
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Andrew Sinclair
    • 2
  • R. Michael Alvarez
    • 3
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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