Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2017

Abstract

This project investigates what economic and psychological attributes influence Maine voters in their political decision-making. I examine how two typically separate disciplines—economics and psychology—combine, in order to understand unique characteristics that inform a voter’s political decision-making. This knowledge is vital to the legislators who seek to understand and represent the people who elected them. I examine the impact of economic stress on important political attitudes, a metric that has never been used to examine Maine voters. To gather this data, approximately 2,000 Maine residents were surveyed in 2013 using a questionnaire delivered through the mail. Using inferential statistics and regression analysis to control for confounding variables, the political ideology of participants—and its relationship to their economic stress—is examined. Though these issues have been examined in relation to feelings of an internalized “sense of control” and its correlation with conservatism or liberalism (Schlenker et al., 2012), the literature informing Maine decision-makers on the socio-fiscal perceptions of their particular constituents is sparse. This is particularly topical, as in today’s intensely polarized political climate, Maine plays a unique role as a “purple” state in deciding even national elections. It is this gap that this research hopes to fill, helping Maine lawmakers to better understand how their constituents reach these crucial political decisions — and how their circumstances may feed into these choices and needs.

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