The paper explores a question raised by the 2011 Irish election, which saw an almost unprecedented decline in support for a major governing party after an economic collapse that necessitated an ECB/IMF ‘bailout’. This seems a classic case of ‘economic voting’ in which a government is punished for incompetent performance. How did the government lose this support: gradually, as successive economic indicators appeared negative, or dramatically, following major shocks? The evidence points to losses at two critical junctures. This is consistent with an interpretation of the link between economics and politics that allows for qualitative judgements by voters in assigning credit and blame for economic performance.