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 even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.
Rudolph. 2003. Who's responsible for the economy? The formation and consequences of responsibility attributions. AJPS 47:698-713.
Arguments about retrospective (economic) voting overlook a central point: People must first attribute responsbility for the economy to the president, Congress, or both before economic concerns can influence voting. Rudolph examines (1) what causes voters to attribute responsibility to Congress, the president, the working class, or businesses and (2) how these attributions influence presidential and Congressional approval.
Democrats are more likely to use partisan rationalizations than Republicans. This may reflect two problems in the design:
Economic conservatism does matter as expected. It makes you slightly more likely to blame working people or business.
See Tables 4 and 5. Favorable economic perceptions always help the president, but they help much more when the president is seen as responsible for the economy.
Congress benefits from favorable economic perceptions only when it is seen as responsible for the economy (and to a lesser extent when business people are seen as responsible).
Interesting, but this should be replicated using a time-series analysis. This would have two advantages:
Research on similar subjects