Research projects:


Subnational voting in Argentina, 1983-2001 (with Karen L. Remmer, Duke University)

To what extent does public support for subnational officials fluctuate in response to local rather than national performance? Are the policy failures of subnational officials reliably punished by voters? Drawing upon both individual and aggregate level data, this paper attempts to shed new light on these questions about the politics of decentralization by exploring electoral outcomes and public opinion at the subnational level in the Argentine context. Consistent with referendum voting models, our analysis suggests that incumbent support at both the national and subnational level of government is shaped by the performance of the incumbent presidential administration. At the same time, however, we also find evidence that voters respond to the policy choices of subnational governments, albeit in ways that attenuate, rather than strengthen, the nexus between policy responsibility and electoral accountability.

Presidential Approval in Volatile Contexts: The Econmic Determinants of Support in Argentina and Brazil.

This paper tests the proposition that presidential approval is affected by economic fluctuations, but that the strength of this relationship is contingent upon the relative volatility of the economic factors over time. The analysis relies on the use of quarterly presidential approval, inflation, and unemployment in Argentina (1984-2003) and Brazil (1985-2002). The findings of the study reinforce the broader theoretical relevance of prior studies by moving outside of the North American Basin and exploring the economic determinants of support in newer democracies. The analysis also contributes to the extant literature by systematically exploring conditions under which economic factors are likely to have an effect on support. Substantively, the findings presented in the paper provide some ground to improve our understanding of the largely unanticipated adherence of democratically elected governments to neoliberal policies.

Presidents, the Political Context, and Economic Accountability: Evidence from Latin America.

Are there conditions under which Latin American incumbents are more/less likely to be rewarded/punished for their past economic performance? Using individual-level data collected in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela the current article argues that the centralized nature of the presidential regimes in the region, the relatively low level of institutionalization of the party systems, and the limits on presidential reelection constrain the ability of individual voters to hold the incumbent party responsible for past economic performance. In addition to probing the broader applicability of a literature developed well-established democracies by exploring the relationship linking economics and incumbent support in relatively more fragile democratic settings, this research contributes to improving our understanding of the interaction between institutional design and electoral behavior.

The Economy, Party Competence and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence from Canadian Federal Elections.(with Éric Bélanger, Université de Montréal)

This paper explores the effect of macroeconomic conditions on incumbent vote in Canadian federal elections during the 1953-2000 period.  Building on the extant literature, it proposes an improved model of economic voting that takes into account party politics, suggesting that images of party competence in handling the economy affect the extent to which incumbents are punished for economic deterioration.  The results of the analysis indicate that party politics does matter, as incumbent governments can (and do) manage to convince the electorate that they can effectively deal with rising inflation or unemployment, and be re-elected in the context of deteriorating economic conditions.  We argue that Canadian political parties obtain such prospective support through efficient campaigning, but also as a result of their reputation at managing the economy.

Winning, Losing, and Satisfaction With Democracy (with André Blais, Université de Montréal)

Electoral outcomes have been found to affect citizen’s attitudes towards democratic institutions. Accordingly, there are good reasons to expect those who won an election to be more satisfied with the way democracy works than those who lost. What is not clear, however, is whether it is the fact of winning (losing), per se, that generates (dis)satisfaction with democracy. The current study explores this winner/loser gap with the use of the 1997 Canadian federal election panel study. It takes into account voters’ expectations about whether they will win or lose, distinguishes winners and losers at the local and national levels, and includes abstainers. The results indicate that the effect of winning and losing on voters’ satisfaction with democracy is significant even when controlling for ex ante satisfaction, before the election takes place.

Electoral Accountability in a Federal System: National and Provincial Economic Voting in Canada.(with Éric Bélanger, Université de Montréal)

This paper tests the extent to which provincial and federal incumbents in Canadian elections are affected mostly by national or provincial economic conditions. Using electoral results for the 1953-2001 period, our pooled cross-sectional time-series analysis reveals that federal incumbents would not gain much votes by claiming credit for the economic prosperity of any particular province when, on average, national economic conditions are deteriorating. The results further suggest that provincial incumbents are not held accountable for economic conditions in their province, but are rather punished for national economic deterioration when the incumbent federal party is of the same partisan family.

The Decline in Voter Turnout in Advanced Democracies (with André Blais, Université de Montréal)

Turnout is declining in most countries (Blais 2000; Gray and Caul 2000). This trend is recent, as it started only around 1990 (Blais 2002). This project looks at the sources of the decline in voter turnout, and seeks to establish whether a substantial part of it is explained by a generational component, i.e., whether turnout is declining because younger generations are less prone to vote than older generations (at the same state of their life cycle) or whether it is declining among all cohorts. The proposed analysis will be conducted at the individual-level through the use of 86 national election studies from 8 countries (Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and The United Kingdom), covering the 1957 to 2002 period.





Last updated on: 04.06.06

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