A new article published in the Journal of Population Economics suggests that Donald Trump would likely have won re-election if COVID-19 cases in the United States had been 5 percent lower.
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The COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election
by Baccini, Leonardo & Brodeur, Abel & Weymouth, Stephen
Pre-publication revised GLO DP 710 [pre.].
Published ONLINE FIRST 2021: Journal of Population Economics, Vol. 34, Issue 2/2021. FREE ACCESS to the published version including the PDF.
GLO Fellow Abel Brodeur
Author Abstract: What is the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 US 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 states without stay-at-home orders, 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. We also find some evidence that COVID-19 incidence had a positive effect on voters’ mobilization, helping Biden win the presidency.
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