Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 763–786 | Cite as

The Political Economy: Political Attitudes and Economic Behavior

  • Ellen M. KeyEmail author
  • Kathleen M. Donovan
Original Paper


It has long been recognized that voters bring their political behaviors in line with economic assessments. Recent work, however, suggests that citizens also engage in economic behaviors that align with their confidence—or lack thereof—in the political system. This alignment can happen consciously or, as we suggest, unconsciously, in the same way that positivity carries over to other behaviors on a micro-level. Using monthly time series data from 1978 to 2008, we contribute further evidence of this relationship by demonstrating that political confidence affects consumer behavior at the aggregate level over time. Our analyses employ measures more closely tied to the theoretical concepts of interest while simultaneously accounting for the complex relationships between subjective and objective economic indicators, economic behavior, political attitudes, and the media. Our results suggest that approval of the president not only increases the electorate’s willingness to spend money, but also affects the volatility of this spending. These findings suggest that the economy is influenced by politics beyond elections, and gives the “Chief Economist” another avenue by which they can affect the behavior of the electorate.


Public opinion Consumer spending Presidential approval Economic behavior 



We would like to thank Matthew Lebo, Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Jeffrey Segal, and Helmut Norpoth for their invaluable assistance with this project. Also, participants in the PRISM time series course and the four anonymous reviewers offered helpful comments that greatly improved the paper. The data and replication code can be found at

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9378_MOESM1_ESM.docx (57 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 56 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and Justice StudiesAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceSt. John Fisher CollegeRochesterUSA

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