The Economist reports some interesting new research by Alesina, Carloni, and Lecce which suggests that austere administrations don't fare especially badly in the polls. This appears to be robust to endogeneity concerns, at least as far as these concerns have been tested by the authors (that popular governments implement austerity, not that austerity doesn't harm electoral popularity).
This isn't all that surprising - or at least it shouldn't be for anyone who takes the basic insights of public choice theory seriously. Who is more likely to win an election - the politician who says "I'm going to increase spending and the deficit" or the politician who says "I'm going to slash spending and balance the budget"? This might be an actual head scratcher in a place like Greece, but in Western Europe or the U.S. the answer is obvious. And yet you'd be hard pressed to find anyone at George Mason emphasize this point.
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