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Loss Aversion, Presidential Responsibility, and Midterm Congressional Elections


  • John W. Patty

    (Carnegie Mellon University)


I explore a behavioral model of political participation, first introduced by Quattrone and Tversky [1988], based on the primitives of prospect theory, as defined by Kahneman and Tversky [1979]. The model offers an alternative explanation for why the President’s party tends to lose seats in midterm congressional elections. The model is examined empirically and compared against competing explanations for the “midterm phenomenon”.

Suggested Citation

  • John W. Patty, 2005. "Loss Aversion, Presidential Responsibility, and Midterm Congressional Elections," Public Economics 0502007, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0502007
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 40

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "A Theory of Divided Government," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1311-1341, November.
    2. repec:hrv:faseco:34222831 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alberto Alesina & Howard Rosenthal, 1988. "Partisan Cycles in Congressional Elections and the Macroeconomy," NBER Working Papers 2706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    Loss aversion; midterm elections; congressional elections; negative voting; midterm effect;

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H - Public Economics

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