Political Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 177–196 | Cite as

Candidate Character vs. The Economy in the 1992 Election

  • Kathryn M. Doherty
  • James G. Gimpel


The outcome of the 1992 U.S. presidential election has been explained largely as a function of perceptions of George Bush's economic performance. The economy submerged questions about Bill Clinton's character, awarding the advantage to the Democrat. In this article, we evaluate the effect of economic evaluations along with character attacks on candidate support in the 1992 presidential contest. Claims that the economy submerged character have been somewhat exaggerated. But while character remains an important issue in presidential evaluation, its role in judging candidates cannot be taken at face value. We show that both economic evaluations and character judgments are highly politicized. The findings indicate that those protesting Clinton's character turned almost exclusively to Bush. Those protesting Bush's economic record turned to both Perot and Clinton. Still, the economy did not “trump” character. The troubles of both major party candidates fueled a strong protest vote that contributed to Perot's strong showing.


Economic Evaluation Economic Performance Presidential Election Major Party Political Psychology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn M. Doherty
  • James G. Gimpel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Government and PoliticsUniversity of MarylandCollege Park

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