Very few economists view consumer theory as essentially unverifiable but generally, the belief seem to be that what is of utmost interest are the aggregates. According to Kay (1961: 535), studies of public attitudes are baseless unless the findings about the preferences, aspirations and prejudices of the public can be integrated with the functioning of governmental system. Even though this view did not have immediate effect, there is an increasing sentiment that the study of public opinion and voting has gone deep into the voter’s head but has not looked deeply into their behavior.
There is much consistency in the behavior of electorates than the behavior of individual voters that they are composed of. The causal chain that link economic policy outcomes to the choice of vote must be complete if economic voting is to work as an effective mechanism of democratic accountability (Eulau & Leiws-Beck, 1985:264). This offers two requirements on voters’ decision calculus.
It requires that the signaling effect or welfare and perception effects are strong so as to influence the perception of the citizens on the economic performance of the government. Again, the voting behavior must consistently be shaped by perception performance. The attachment of responsibility and the effects of priorities accorded issues are in most cases required to be strong to the extent that the politicians respond to economic voting as a culmination of the demands of voters on how the economy should be managed (Lewis-Beck & Paldam, 2002).
The rational economic voter must make a rich evaluation of economic circumstances which is entirely complete in itself and to provide answers to questions such as how economic indicators supply him with the information about the government’s management of the economy, the extent of his personal welfare which is in most cases influenced by the condition of the nation’s economy, whether the general government competence is exhibited by the economy and whether it should be held accountable for this condition.
If this is the case, then he should also ask himself if there is any a feasible alternative to the current government and the kind of policies that he would wish this future government to pursue. Such are the issues that provide answers to how the behavior of voters is influenced by the economy (Conover & Feldman, 1986:56). It is always a common assumption that the welfare of the electorate is directly affected by the economic conditions in an obvious manner.
Furthermore, the government’s ability to influence this link is limited. However, many controversies are centered on this link. For instance, how accurate is the perception of the citizens concerning the conditions of the economy and could there be any systematic objectivity in these perceptions? Can the supporters of the governing parties see the economy as being in a better or worse state? There is also a question of whether the citizen should use the actual economic indicators or perception of the indicators.
In a situation where objective indicators are used, should the measurement be real or nominal? The asymmetries in reactions to economic indicators may be observed. According to grievance asymmetry hypothesis, the voters have a tendency to react more to negative changes than positive changes (Kiewiet, 1983:86). Individuals do not essentially react in similar ways to the same economic condition. Again, not every individual is vulnerable to unemployment or sensitive to increases in prizes. Besides, not all people may benefit from economic upsurges.