Four decades ago, Gerald Kramer showed that economic conditions affect electoral outcomes. Some researchers took this to mean that voters were self-interested, voting their “pocketbooks,” while others, such as Leif Lewin, took it to mean that voters were sociotropic, motivated by the public interest—and therefore altruistic. It is important, however, to avoid conflating sociotropic voters with altruistic ones. Voters might be voting in favor of politicians or parties that they think will further the public interest as an indirect route to furthering their own interests, as members of the public. More research, perhaps conducted using novel methodologies, is needed in order to settle the extent to which voters are motivated by self-interest or by the public interest.
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DOI 10.1080/08913811.2011.635868
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