Penalizing the Party: Health Care Reform Issue Voting in the 2010 Election

David M. Konisky, Lilliard E. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Many political pundits characterized the 2010 election as a referendum on President Obama's health care reform law. The political science literature on issue voting, however, does not consistently demonstrate that these types of policy evaluations are central to citizens' vote choices. Moreover, existing theories suggest different predictions about how the health care reform issue would affect elections across different levels of government. Studying data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), the analysis indicates that those opposed to health care reform were less likely to vote for Democratic candidates in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, state gubernatorial, and state attorneys general contests, controlling for partisan affiliation, political ideology, perceptions of the economy, and evaluations of other salient policy issues. These findings suggest that, across the board, Democrats were penalized for their support of health care reform, and more generally provide evidence of the role of noneconomic issue voting in U.S. elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-926
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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