Do governments represent the material needs and preferences of their voters? This is one of the central questions of political science with great consequences for how we should evaluate the state of democracy. We present a thorough test of the link between voters’ economic vulnerabilities and public policies. Using data from 18 European democracies, we show empirically that economically vulnerable voters support generous unemployment protection and vote on parties in favor of generous social protection; that parties adopt policy positions that correspond with these voter signals; that entire party systems can meaningfully be described by the economic vulnerabilities of parties’ voters; and that parties, when entering office, pursue policies aligned with their voters’ need and preferences.