PS: Political Science & Politics


The American Voter and the Economy, 2008

Robert S. Eriksona1

a1 Columbia University

Why did Obama defeat McCain in 2008? As with any national election outcome, the immediate culprit that comes to mind is economic performance. When the U.S. is prosperous, the electorate votes the incumbent presidential party back into office. When the U.S. economy sours, the incumbent (or incumbent party) loses. In 2008, the application of this rule led to a correct prediction once again. Economy up, Republicans out. It is difficult to challenge this conventional wisdom that the economy contributed to the transfer of the White House from the Republicans to Democrat Obama.