Political Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 507–534 | Cite as

Ecologies of Unease: Geographic Context and National Economic Evaluations

  • Andrew ReevesEmail author
  • James G. Gimpel
Original Paper


Assessment of the nation’s economic performance has been repeatedly linked to voters’ decision-making in U.S. presidential elections. Here we inquire as to where those economic evaluations originate. One possibility in the politicized environment of a major campaign is that they are partisan determinations and do not reflect actual economic circumstances. Another possibility is that these judgments arise from close attention to news media, which is presumably highlighting national economic conditions as a facet of campaign coverage. Still a third explanation is that voters derive their national economic evaluations from living out their lives in particular localities which may or may not be experiencing the conditions that affect the nation as a whole. Drawing upon data from the 2008 presidential election, we find that varying local conditions do shape the economic evaluations of political independents. Moreover, unemployment is not the only salient factor, as fuel prices and foreclosures also figured prominently. Local economic factors, what we call geotropic considerations, shape national economic evaluations especially for those who aren’t making these judgments on simple partisan grounds.


Economic voting Presidential elections Economic evaluations Political geography 

Supplementary material

11109_2011_9167_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 47 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Government and PoliticsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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