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A Utility Function Analysis of Competing Models of Party Support

Harold D. Clarke, Euel Elliott and Barry J. Seldon

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1994, vol. 6, issue 3, 289-305

Abstract: V. O. Key's reward-punishment model has long dominated scholarly thinking about the political economy of party support. The model's popularity persists despite anomalous empirical evidence and challenges by issue-priority theorists who criticize the model for ignoring differences in the policy choices offered by competing parties. This paper argues that the reward-punishment and issue-priority perspectives are encompassed by utility function models of voter decision-making. Such models account for party support dynamics that are perverse according to reward-punishment assumptions. They also provide a theoretical rationale for specifying lagged economic effects in party support functions, while suggesting difficulties in doing so. The performance of utility function models is illustrated under varying assumptions about economic conditions and a voter's knowledge of them.

Keywords: inflation; issue-priority; reward-punishment; unemployment; utility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1994
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