We develop an incomplete-information theory of economic voting, where voters ’ information about macro-economic performance is determined by the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Our theory shows that sociotropic voting is consistent with self-interested behavior. We test our theory using both cross-sectional and timeseries survey data. A novel survey instrument that asks respondents their numerical assessment of the unemployment rate confirms that individuals ’ economic information responds to the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Further, these assessments associate with individuals ’ vote choices. We also show in time-series data that state unemployment robustly correlates with evaluations of national economic conditions and presidential support
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