People will “vote their pocketbooks” (that is, they will vote in their financial best interests) have isolated citations in the 1910s, but became popular after the New Deal legislation of the 1930s. The “vote their pocketbooks” saying became common since the 1950s, when government programs and handouts expanded.
The term “pocketbook issue” was used in 1900 and became popular in August 1924, when Calvin Coolidge said that he’d run for president on pocketbook issues.
21 September 1912, Muskegon (MI) Chronicle, “Shallenberger To Face Probe: Man Opposing the Progressive Candidate Must Explain Interest in Honduras” by Gilson Garner, pg. 7, col. 2:
The undesirability of having men in the senate who might vote their pocketbooks in a speculative enterprise affecting Central American republics is shown by the history of the treaties negotiated by Secretary Knox with Honduras and Nicaragua.
13 September 1934, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Democrary at the Marne,” pg. 14:
They were urged to vote their pocketbooks.
Google News Archive
26 March 1943, St. Petersburg (FL) Evening Independent, “The National Whirligig” by Ray Tucker, pg. 10, col. 4:
Few like to go back after tasting the wine of life in the world’s political, financial, and military center. And if they do, their wives do not. So they are tempted to vote their pocketbooks rather than their convictions.
The Silent People Speak
By Robert St. John
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
That’s principally because of the wealth that was once concentrated in the city. Even politicians in small American cities know that people generally “vote their pocketbooks.”
Google News Archive
11 August 1952, Owosso (MI) Argus-Press, pg. 4, col. 1:
Handout Programs, Once in Effect, Are Hard to Change
In any discussion of the fall elections, the cynical opinion is often expressed that “people will vote their pocketbooks”, meaning they will vote for continuation of the many handout programs introduced in the last twenty years, and therefore will give their votes to the Democratic candidate.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the American Farm Bureau Federation National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, December 12, 1956
Even the so-called “farm revolt” of 1948 does not prove that farmers vote their pocketbooks; for farmers were deeply split in that election, with Mr. Truman—who was running, it might also be recalled, on a flexible parity platform—losing as many farm states as he won, and winning others only by virtue of his vote in the cities. I think most objective observers would agree that those farmers—by no means all—who did express a preference for Mr. Truman over Mr. Dewey and for Mr. Eisenhower over Mr. Stevenson, were motivated by more than promises of financial assistance.
The eight years with Eisenhower
By Ezra Taft Benson
Garden City, NY : Doubleday
There’s a deep-seated theory in the Midwest that farmers “vote their pocketbooks.”
Readings in the Social Psychology of Education
By W. W. Charters and N. L. Gage
Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon
People in lower economic categories do tend to “vote their pocketbooks” as do the older people who depend upon a fixed income and the younger people who are just getting started financially.
New York (NY) Times
When They Vote Their Pocketbooks
Published: April 08, 1988
While the 1988 campaign flickers and flares on TV screens and front pages, the engines of political decision making churn away below the surface. In which direction do they push? Ask any analyst what motivates voters and the answer is always the same: their pocketbooks. By that standard, things seem headed steadily Republican.
Susan Estrich: People Will Vote Their Pocketbooks
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By Susan Estrich
LOS ANGELES — It’s still the economy, stupid.
The conventional wisdom is that, unless we’re at war, people will vote their pocketbooks. And if they’re worried enough, they may vote their wallets even in the face of war. Patience may work for the richest of the rich, but they don’t decide elections.
Gwool - Open Salon
JULY 20, 2010 11:33AM
Rhetoric of the Political Toreador
July 20, 2010 05:20 PM
“Voters vote their pocketbooks.” It’s a famous expression, and a political axiom that politicians who want to survive, don’t forget. They don’t vote their deficits. (See, it even sounds silly saying it, and writing it.)
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Monday, October 18, 2010 • Permalink