5. A weak economy makes institutions seem like they’re not working. As the political scientist James Stimson has shown, trust in government and approval of all the major institutions of government tends to track with the state of the economy. It shouldn’t be surprising that people are dissatisfied with the parties, but we should expect that dissatisfaction to dissipate if and when the economy improves. The same thing happened in the 1990s—as the economy improved during President Clinton’s time in office, the Reform Party fizzled.
Again, we don’t know what will happen, but I wouldn’t bet against the parties—and journalists shouldn’t either without more evidence to the contrary.
Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.