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Ron Johnson and Charles Pattie, "Dimensions of Retrospective Voting: Economic Performance, Public Service Standards and Conservative Party support at the 1997 British General Election," Party Politics, 7 (July 2001), 469-490.

First Paragraph:
With the increasing dealignment of the British electorate and the decline in importance of traditional social cleavages in accounting for variations in voting behaviour there, analysts have turned to alternative models. (On Realignment and the 'death' of the class cleavage, see Sanders (1997) and Evans (1999a).) Initially, analysts were attracted to models with a focus on issue voting, but this has been eclipsed by a concentration on reward-punishment models according to which voters reward governments for positive policy outcomes and punish them for negative ones. ('Reward a governing party with your vote when satisfied, punish it by voting for the opposition when dissatisfied') (Norpoth, 1992: 57). These models - alternatively known as responsive-voter models - originate in classic texts by Schumpeter and Key. Schumpeter's (1942) seminal contribution equated liberal representative democracy with market competition in the sale of goods and services; in the 'political market place' parties compete by offering government services in return for votes, with the party(ies) making the best offer being elected. Key's (1966) contribution showed that voters are rational in evaluating those alternatives in the light of available information, using appraisals of past events, performance and actions to determine their electoral choice (they behave 'about as rationally and responsibly as we should expect': p. 7).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Conservative vote in 1997 by evaluations of changes on nine issues and the reasons for them p. 473
Table 2: Evaluations of changes on nine issues and the reasons for them p. 475
Table 3: Evaluations of changes on nine issues and the reasons for them by 1992 Conservative voters only p. 475
Table 4: The number of pro- and anti- government evaluations (percentage of respondents) p. 476
Table 5: Logistic regression models of Conservative voting in 1992 by number of pro- and anti-government evaluations, showing the regression coefficients (with their exponents in parentheses) p. 478
Table 6: Logistics regression models of Conservative voting in 1992 by pro- and anti-government responses on each issues, showing the regression coefficients (with their exponents in parentheses): each pair of variables is contrasted against those who gave an anti-government evaluation on that domain p. 480
Table 7: Loadings from a principal components analysis of anti- and pro-government responses (direct oblimin rotation: each variable's largest loading is shown in italics) p. 482
Table 8: Logistic regression models of 1997 Conservative voting by principal components of the pro-and anti-government evaluations p. 483
Table 9: Evaluations of parties in 1997 by all respondents and those who votes Conservative in 1992 (in percentages) p. 485
Table 10: Logistic regression models of 1997 Conservative voting by principal components of the pro- and anti-government evaluations and evaluations of the parties in 1997 p. 486

Last Paragraph:
In this paper, we have expanded the application of reward-punishment models to the study of British general elections by incorporating a range of important policy domains, voter evaluations of the efficacy of government policy across each of those domains, and also voter evaluations of alternative governments. This has led to a fuller appreciation of the operation of reward-punishment processes than propounded in earlier studies of the British electorate, and enabled rigorous quantitative assessments of the reasons for the Conservatives' defeat in 1997 offered by academic and other commentators. That defeat occurred because many more people thought hat government policies had failed rather than succeeded over the previous five years, over three main sets of issues (economic prosperity, the quality of public services and taxes and prices, with variations in evaluations of the quality of public services having the most impact), and those who criticized government policies also thought that the Labour Party offered a viable alternative government.