Honors College


John F. Cox

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



This study analyzed the varied impact of the economy in the 1992 and 2004 United States presidential elections. Initially, it was my contention that the economy is always the most important factor in deciding the outcome of a presidential reelections. Conventional wisdom states that a poor economy spells trouble for the incumbent candidate; this was the case in 1992. 2004 did not follow conventional wisdom, the economy was struggling but to a lesser degree and the incumbent candidate was victorious. However, as the study reveals elections and the campaigns that precede them are not merely matters of dollars and cents as the electorate examines many other factors before casting a vote. This thesis examines those other factors that led to the disparity in outcomes. Despite similar economies, the incumbent lost easily in 1992 and won easily in 2004. The study takes in to account the viability of the challenger candidates, the message of each campaign, external events, and the overall strategy of the candidates. In examining these factors, it became apparent that the economy is not always the controlling factor in United States presidential reelections. In fact, much of the outcome is determined by the ability of a candidate to adapt to the external events and appeal to the concerns of the electorate.