Economic Conditions and Presidential Elections: A County Level Analysis
Haverford College. Department of Economics
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Not since the days of FDR and the Great Depression has a president been reelected with unemployment over 7%. Conventional wisdom, history and analysts alike told us that if unemployment is high, it spells the end of an incumbent’s reelection chances. That was until Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012. Using monthly economic and Presidential voting data from 1996 through 2012 for every county in the United States in a cross-‐sectional OLS study, this paper fills in the gaps between previous studies that only looked at state or national level data. This study found that the trend in unemployment both at the national and local level is a strong determinant of voting behavior. This study shows that with the dip in unemployment seen in the months leading into November 2012, Obama’s reelection becomes less enigmatic in the face of history than it seems at first.