Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/225990
Authors: 
Baccini, Leonardo
Brodeur, Abel
Weymouth, Stephen
Year of Publication: 
2020
Series/Report no.: 
GLO Discussion Paper 710
Abstract: 
What is the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 U.S. presidential election? Guided by a pre-analysis plan, we estimate the effect of COVID- 19 cases and deaths on the change in county-level voting for Donald Trump between 2016 and 2020. To account for potential confounders, we include a large number of COVID-19-related controls as well as demographic and socioeconomic variables. Moreover, we instrument the numbers of cases and deaths with the share of workers employed in meat-processing factories to sharpen our identification strategy. We find that COVID-19 cases negatively affected Trump's vote share. The estimated effect appears strongest in urban counties, in swing states, and in states that Trump won in 2016. A simple counterfactual analysis suggests that Trump would likely have won re-election if COVID-19 cases had been 5 percent lower. Our paper contributes to the literature of retrospective voting and demonstrates that voters hold leaders accountable for their (mis-)handling of negative shocks.
Subjects: 
COVID-19
pandemic
elections
political behavior
pre-analysis plan
JEL: 
D72
I18
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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