Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement

Posted: 28 Jul 2017

See all articles by Andreas Madestam

Andreas Madestam

Stockholm University, Department of Economics

Daniel Shoag

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Stan Veuger

American Enterprise Institute

David Yanagizawa-Drott

University of Zurich

Date Written: December 12, 2012

Abstract

Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences? We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009. We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance. We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policymaking was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress. Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased the number of Republican votes by a factor well above one. Together our results show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policymaking, and that these effects arise from influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences.

Suggested Citation

Madestam, Andreas and Shoag, Daniel and Veuger, Stan and Yanagizawa-Drott, David, Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement (December 12, 2012). Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 128, No. 4, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3008849

Andreas Madestam

Stockholm University, Department of Economics ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.ne.su.se/andreasmadestam

Daniel Shoag

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stan Veuger (Contact Author)

American Enterprise Institute ( email )

1789 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

David Yanagizawa-Drott

University of Zurich ( email )

Schönberggasse 1
Zürich, MA ZH 8001
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://Econ.uzh.ch

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