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It has long been recognized that voters bring their political behaviors in line with economic assessments. Recent work, however, suggests that citizens also engage in economic behaviors that align with their confidence—or lack thereof—in the political system. This alignment can happen consciously or, as we suggest, unconsciously, in the same way that positivity carries over to other behaviors on a micro-level. Using monthly time series data from 1978 to 2008, we contribute further evidence of this relationship by demonstrating that political confidence affects consumer behavior at the aggregate level over time. Our analyses employ measures more closely tied to the theoretical concepts of interest while simultaneously accounting for the complex relationships between subjective and objective economic indicators, economic behavior, political attitudes, and the media. Our results suggest that approval of the president not only increases the electorate’s willingness to spend money, but also affects the volatility of this spending. These findings suggest that the economy is influenced by politics beyond elections, and gives the “Chief Economist” another avenue by which they can affect the behavior of the electorate.




This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Political Behavior. The final authenticated version is available online at:

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