How Do Voters Judge Policy Responses to Natural Disasters?

50 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2017 Last revised: 14 Sep 2019

See all articles by Michael M. Bechtel

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Massimo Mannino

University of St. Gallen

Date Written: April 25, 2017

Abstract

Which factors explain voters' evaluations of policy responses to major economic shocks? We explore this question in the context of mass preferences over the distribution of disaster relief and evaluate three theoretical arguments related to affectedness, need, and political ties. We analyze experimental data from an original survey conducted among American citizens and find that factors related to affectedness and need, but not electoral ties drive voters' preferred disaster responses. We compare these patterns with observed disaster relief distributions (1993-2008). We find that observed relief allocations largely mirror the structure of voter preferences with respect to affectedness and need, but not political ties. Our results have implications for an ongoing debate about the electoral effects of natural disasters, the multidimensionality of retrospective evaluations of incumbent performance, and the extent to which divide-the-dollar politics decisions align with voter preferences.

Keywords: Retrospective Voting, Voter Competence, Fairness, Distributive Politics, Public Opinion, Conjoint Analysis, Disaster Relief

JEL Classification: C83, C90, D72, H12, H50, H84

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Mannino, Massimo, How Do Voters Judge Policy Responses to Natural Disasters? (April 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2943046 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2943046

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Massimo Mannino

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Langgasse 1
St. Gallen, 9008
Switzerland

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