Quantitative Applications of Sociology workshop: Tom Davidson
Did COVID-19 Boost Populism? Evidence from Early Superspreader Events (with Felix Hagemeister and Ranjit Lall)
The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted social, political, and economic structures across the world. We examine whether right-wing populist politicians and political parties may have benefited from the crisis by exploiting declines in public trust and a shift to online communication. We use an instrumental variables strategy, leveraging proximity to super spreader events to develop causal estimates of the relationship between COVID-19 cases and populism at the local level across five European states. We find that populists attracted higher rates of engagement on Twitter due to the pandemic as well as increased support during the first round of the French election in March 2020. Analyses of survey data from the UK and the Netherlands provides insights into the mechanisms linking the pandemic and support for populism.