Date of Award

Spring 3-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Coastal Resilience

Committee Chair

Dr. Edward Sayre

Committee Chair School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 2

Dr. Joseph St. Marie

Committee Member 2 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Pauly Jr.

Committee Member 3 School

Coastal Resilience

Committee Member 4

Dr. Hadiseh Faridi Tavana

Committee Member 4 School

Social Science and Global Studies


The large majority of studies concerning the “economic voter” have tended to follow specifications that assume retrospective, myopic, and sociotropic voter behavior. However, the magnitude of the economic effect and the conditions under which the effect is found have varied considerably across the entire body of research.

This study reframes the study of economic voting by focusing on variability in economic performance over the medium-term as a causal factor as opposed to specifying particular directions and levels of economic performance over the short-term as the necessary condition for retrospective and sociotropic voter behavior. Additionally, structural and institutional conditions associated with party structure are assessed for their conditional effects on the ‘economic vote.’ Most importantly, however, the outcome of interest is shifted from a focus on the incumbent or opposition only to a focus on overall levels of electoral volatility.

Results from fixed effects regression indicate preliminary support for the hypothesis that economic variability matters at least as much as the strength and duration of economic downturns. However, further research is needed to develop a solid theoretical foundation for explaining why the interaction between structural and institutional characteristics of the competitive electoral environment and economic variability produces the opposite effect of what would be expected if uncertainty in the party system functioned to reduce voters’ ability to hold incumbents accountable and assess their alternatives. The high degree of distrust in political parties across Latin America may prove to be a fertile starting point for further theoretical and empirical exploration.