Leaders' persona and the state of the economy are among the two most salient topics during election campaigns. Existing scholarship treats these as two independent or even competing factors. Economic perceptions are overlooked as cues for leader evaluations, while leader evaluations rarely enter considerations of the economic vote. This article builds on evolutionary leadership theory to bridge these distant literatures. It proposes that evaluating leaders' performance based on the resources available to group members may have improved followers' fitness ancestrally. Accordingly, it predicts that the effect of economic perceptions on vote choice is mediated by leaders' warmth and competence impressions in modern democracies. To test these predictions, the article first analyzes representative survey data from seventeen elections in three countries (USA, Australia and Denmark). Second, it relies on two original, well-powered manipulation-of-process experiments to test the validity of the causal claims.