IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ioe/doctra/552.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Virus of Fear: The Political Impact of Ebola in the U.S

Author

Listed:
  • Filipe Campante
  • Emilio Depetris-Chauvin
  • Ruben Durante

Abstract

We study how fear can affect the behavior of voters and politicians by looking at the Ebola scare that hit the U.S. a month before the 2014 midterm elections. Exploiting the timing and location of the four cases diagnosed in the U.S., we show that heightened concern about Ebola, as measured by online activity, led to a lower vote share for the Democrats in congressional and gubernatorial elections, as well as lower turnout, despite no evidence of a general anti-incumbent effect (including on President Obama’s approval ratings). We then show that politicians responded to the Ebola scare by mentioning the disease in connection with immigration, terrorism, and President Obama in newsletters, tweets and campaign ads. This response came only from Republicans, especially those facing competitive races, suggesting a strategic use of the issue in conjunction with topics perceived as favorable to them. Survey evidence suggests that voters responded with increasingly conservative attitudes on immigration but not on other ideologically-charged issues. Taken together, our findings indicate that emotional reactions associated with fear can have a strong electoral impact, that politicians perceive and act strategically in response to this, and that the process is mediated by issues that can be plausibly associated with the specific fear-triggering factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Filipe Campante & Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ruben Durante, 2020. "The Virus of Fear: The Political Impact of Ebola in the U.S," Documentos de Trabajo 552, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  • Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:552
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economia.uc.cl/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/dt-552.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. José G. Montalvo, 2011. "Voting after the Bombings: A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Terrorist Attacks on Democratic Elections," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1146-1154, November.
    2. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
    3. Unknown, 2014. "Media Coverage 2014," 2014: Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security: Feeding the 9 Billion, Well, 26-28 August 2014 225573, Crawford Fund.
    4. Ted Brader, 2005. "Striking a Responsive Chord: How Political Ads Motivate and Persuade Voters by Appealing to Emotions," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(2), pages 388-405, April.
    5. Getmansky, Anna & Zeitzoff, Thomas, 2014. "Terrorism and Voting: The Effect of Rocket Threat on Voting in Israeli Elections," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 588-604, August.
    6. Matthias Flückiger & Markus Ludwig & Ali Sina Önder, 2019. "Ebola and State Legitimacy," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(621), pages 2064-2089.
    7. Bandiera,Oriana & Buehren,Niklas & Goldstein,Markus P. & Rasul,Imran & Smurra,Andrea, 2019. "The Economic Lives of Young Women in the Time of Ebola : Lessons from an Empowerment Program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8760, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Brian Knight & Ana María Tribín-Uribe, 2020. "Immigration and Violent Crime: Evidence from the Colombia-Venezuela Border," Borradores de Economia 1121, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    2. Fernandez-Navia, Tania & Polo-Muro, Eduardo & Tercero-Lucas, David, 2021. "Too afraid to vote? The effects of COVID-19 on voting behaviour," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    3. Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Eichengreen, Barry & Saka, Orkun, 2020. "The political scar of epidemics," BOFIT Discussion Papers 14/2020, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    4. Maffioli, Elisa M., 2021. "The political economy of health epidemics: Evidence from the Ebola outbreak," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    5. Arthi, Vellore & Parman, John, 2021. "Disease, downturns, and wellbeing: Economic history and the long-run impacts of COVID-19," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Gallego, Jorge & Prem, Mounu & Vargas, Juan F., 2020. "Corruption in the Times of Pandemia," SocArXiv js8by, Center for Open Science.
    7. Herrera, Helios & Konradt, Maximilian & Ordoñez, Guillermo & Trebesch, Christoph, 2020. "Corona politics: The cost of mismanaging pandemics," Kiel Working Papers 2165, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    8. Bruno Carvalho & Susana Peralta & Joao Pereira dos Santos, 2020. "What and how did people buy during the Great Lockdown? Evidence from electronic payments," Working Papers ECARES 2020-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2022. "News coverage and mass shootings in the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    10. Egorov, Georgy & Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2021. "Divided we stay home: Social distancing and ethnic diversity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    11. Bruno Carvalho & Susana Peralta & Joao Pereira dos Santos, 2020. "Regional and Sectorial Impacts of the Covid-19 Crisis: Evidence from Electronic Payments," Working Papers ECARES 2020-48, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Bruno P. Carvalho & Susana Peralta & João Pereira dos Santos, 2022. "Regional and sectorial impacts of the Covid‐19 crisis: Evidence from electronic payments," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 757-798, June.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Benny Geys & Øystein Hernæs, 2021. "Party leaders and voter responses to political terrorism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 187(3), pages 481-499, June.
    2. Walter Bossert & Andrew E. Clark & Conchita d'Ambrosio & Anthony Lepinteur, 2019. "Economic Insecurity and the Rise of the Right," PSE Working Papers halshs-02325984, HAL.
    3. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Elsayed, Ahmed, 2020. "Global terror, well-being and political attitudes," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    4. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Elsayed, Ahmed, 2018. "Everybody's a Victim? Global Terror, Well-Being and Political Attitudes," Working Papers in Economics 733, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    5. Athina Economou & Christos Kollias, 2019. "Security policy preferences of EU citizens: Do terrorist events affect them?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 178(3), pages 445-471, March.
    6. Emilio Colombo & Valentina Rotondi & Luca Stanca, 2022. "The Day After the Bomb: Well-Being Effects of Terrorist Attacks in Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 115-132, February.
    7. Gallego, J & Prem, M & Vargas, J. F, 2020. "Corruption in the times of pandemia," Documentos de Trabajo 018178, Universidad del Rosario.
    8. Fernandez-Navia, Tania & Polo-Muro, Eduardo & Tercero-Lucas, David, 2021. "Too afraid to vote? The effects of COVID-19 on voting behaviour," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    9. Shuai Chen, 2022. "Rally Post-Terrorism," CESifo Working Paper Series 9638, CESifo.
    10. Nadav Ben Itzhak, 2018. "The Effect of Terrorism on Housing Rental Prices: Evidence from Jerusalem," Bank of Israel Working Papers 2018.08, Bank of Israel.
    11. Elster, Yael, 2019. "Rockets and votes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 767-784.
    12. Fiorini, Luciana C. & Jetter, Michael & Parmeter, Christopher F. & Parsons, Christopher, 2020. "The Effect of Community Size on Electoral Preferences: Evidence From Post-WWII Southern Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 13724, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Alessandro Belmonte, 2020. "Punishing or Rallying ‘Round the Flag? Heterogeneous Effects of Terrorism in South Tyrol," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 511, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    14. Haritz Garro, 2019. "Terrorism prevention with reelection concerns and valence competition," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 31(3), pages 330-369, July.
    15. Eichengreen, Barry & Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Saka, Orkun, 2021. "Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    16. Daniel Albalate & Germà Bel & Ferran A. Mazaira-Font, 2020. "Ensuring Stability, Accuracy and Meaningfulness in Synthetic Control Methods: The Regularized SHAP-Distance Method," IREA Working Papers 202005, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Apr 2020.
    17. Getz, Donald & Page, Stephen J., 2016. "Progress and prospects for event tourism research," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 593-631.
    18. Bruno Ferman & Cristine Pinto & Vitor Possebom, 2020. "Cherry Picking with Synthetic Controls," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(2), pages 510-532, March.
    19. Oliver Wagner & Thomas Adisorn & Lena Tholen & Dagmar Kiyar, 2020. "Surviving the Energy Transition: Development of a Proposal for Evaluating Sustainable Business Models for Incumbents in Germany’s Electricity Market," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(3), pages 1-17, February.
    20. Bibek Adhikari & Romain Duval & Bingjie Hu & Prakash Loungani, 2018. "Can Reform Waves Turn the Tide? Some Case Studies using the Synthetic Control Method," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 879-910, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:552. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/iepuccl.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Jaime Casassus (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/iepuccl.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.