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Chubb: Institutions, the economy, and the dynamics of state elections

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Chubb. 1988. Institutions, the economy, and the dynamics of state elections. American Political Science Review 82 (March): 133.

In Brief

Recent research had put considerable effort into understanding how economic conditions affect presidential and Congressional elections, generally coming to the conclusion that the relationship is significant. Chubb applies the same methods and arguments to gubernatorial and state legislative elections, finding that voters do not appear to hold state legislatures or governors accountable for the economy.

For his analysis, Chubb examines a time series of elections results from 1940 to 1980 for most states (excluding the one-party South, nonpartisan Nebraska, and states holding their elections in odd years).

Place in the Literature

Most literature on gubernatorial elections after Chubb sought to determine whether gubernatorial elections reflected national or state conditions more strongly. See, for example, Carsey and Wright (1998) and Peltzman (1987).

State legislative elections

Chubb examines the swing in party control that occurs, not individual legislative elections. Like governors, legislators are not held accountable for the state's economic performance. They are generally affected by the same variables that governors are, but less so, since they have managed to insulate themselves through legislative institutionalization.

Gubernatorial elections

Governors are not held accountable for the state economy. Instead, governors are judged based on their party's national reputation (specifically, the national economy and whether the governor belongs to the president's party).

Research on similar subjects


Chubb, John (author)American PoliticsState Politics (U.S.)Gubernatorial ElectionsVotingRetrospective VotingEconomic Voting

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