Joel Rogers

Recent Articles

Who Deserted the Democrats in 1994?

Analysts have pronounced 1994 an ideological election because the economy was growing overall. But look who was swinging Republican.

A merican elections have long best been understood as referenda on the economy, but last November the economy didn't seem to matter to voters. By most traditional measures 1992 through 1994 were years of strong economic performance, yet the incumbent Democrats took a historic beating. For exultant Republican pollsters, this was evidence of a genuine ideological victory. For social scientists who touted models of voter behavior geared to economic aggregates such as growth in gross domestic product, it was another professional embarassment. For Democratic strategists, or anyone interested in something better than Contract politics, it should be a wake-up call for a more careful analysis. Either the economy really does not matter, in which case Democrats need to find new ideological appeals to an increasingly conservative voting public. Or it matters in ways that traditional analyses do not detect, in which case Democrats need a new electoral strategy based on new economic appeals. Which...