Theory: Drawing on theories of group-based effects on political judgments, we argue that group-level economic perceptions may complement the familiar pocketbook and sociotropic indicators as determinants of political evaluations. We examine three processes by which groups may influence political judgement: group membership, group identification, and group comparison. Hypotheses: We hypothesize that people hold group-level economic perceptions that are independent from family-level and national-level appraisals, and that these group-level perceptions influence political judgments. Further, we develop a series of specific hypotheses regarding the influence of group membership, group identification, and group comparison on the link between economic perceptions and political evaluations. Methods: Our dependent variable is the presidential vote choice, with data from the 1984 South Bend Study. We estimate a series of logistic regression models of the presidential vote to explore if and how group-level economic perceptions affect the vote choice. Results: People do hold group-level economic perceptions that are largely independent from economic judgments regarding the family and the nation as a whole. Group-based economic assessments affect the presidential vote choice, but, surprisingly, this influence is not a function of group membership, group identification, or traditional forms of group comparison such as relative deprivation. Instead, findings point to the significance of a unique form of group comparison, sociotropic fairness: voters are substantially more likely to judge the president favorably if they feel that class groups have enjoyed similar rather than dissimilar changes in economic performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations