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The COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

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  • Baccini, Leonardo
  • Brodeur, Abel
  • Weymouth, Stephen

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 so- cioeconomic 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 ur- ban 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 the COVID-19 incidence had a positive effect on voters' mobilization, helping Biden win the presidency.

Suggested Citation

  • Baccini, Leonardo & Brodeur, Abel & Weymouth, Stephen, 2021. "The COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election," GLO Discussion Paper Series 710 [pre.], Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:710pre
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 1st February 2021
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-02-01 12:00:03

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    Cited by:

    1. Abel Brodeur & Idaliya Grigoryeva & Lamis Kattan, 2021. "Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and trust," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(4), pages 1321-1354, October.
    2. Karabulut, Gokhan & Zimmermann, Klaus F. & Bilgin, Mehmet Huseyin & Doker, Asli Cansin, 2021. "Democracy and COVID-19 outcomes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 203(C).
    3. Leonardo Baccini & Abel Brodeur & Stephen Weymouth, 2021. "The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 US presidential election," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 739-767, April.
    4. Paolo Nicola Barbieri & Beatrice Bonini, 2021. "Political orientation and adherence to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 38(2), pages 483-504, July.
    5. Maxim Ananyev & Michael Poyker & Yuan Tian, 2021. "The safest time to fly: pandemic response in the era of Fox News," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 775-802, July.
    6. Ján Palguta & Levínský, René & Škoda, Samuel, 2021. "Do Elections Accelerate the COVID-19 Pandemic? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," GLO Discussion Paper Series 891, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; pandemic; elections; political behavior; pre-analysis plan;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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