The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
Much has been made of the recent decision by the FBI to reopen the investigation into alleged misuse of emails by Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. FBI director James Comey sent a message to Congress informing them that the FBI has discovered a new series of emails on a computer belonging to long time Clinton aide Huma Abedin in the course of a different investigation into her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. There has been significant amounts of speculation into the potential damage this does to the Clinton campaign and how they plan on the dealing with this recent crisis. They shouldn’t be worried.
Retrospective voting is the theory that people make their decision about who to vote for based on their current circumstances, how they think the economy is doing, and how they think the election will turn out. Thus, one of the strongest predictors of who will win a national political election is the state of the economy. Applied to the US presidential election, this means that the incumbent party, the Democratic Party, has the electoral advantage of a steadily improving economy. The only instance in the past 50 years where the state of the economy did not accurately forecast the eventual winner of a US presidential election was the year 2000, where the Electoral College and the Supreme Court determined the winner, even though Al Gore won the popular vote.
Clinton’s campaign seems to be familiar with the political science literature because their strategy to weather this recent crisis is to project confidence and continue on as before. Barring any quirks of the constitutional system or a sudden economic recession, the fundamentals of a growing economy and consistent job growth mean that Hillary Clinton will probably be the next President of the United States. Whether the economy will continue to hum along down the road to prosperity or take a turn toward recession will be a problem for Clinton’s 2020 reelection campaign to worry about.
Jordan Gomez is a fourth year political science student who enjoys hiking, books, and taking care of his cats. After graduation he wants to travel the world.