Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States

52 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2020 Last revised: 23 Apr 2020

See all articles by Guy Grossman

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Soojong Kim

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication

Jonah Rexer

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Harsha Thirumurthy

University of Pennsylvania; Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, University of Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania - Population Studies Center

Date Written: April 22, 2020

Abstract

Voluntary physical distancing is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Political partisanship may influence individuals’ responsiveness to recommendations from political leaders. Daily mobility during March 2020 was measured using location information from a sample of mobile phones in 3,100 US counties across 49 states. Governors’ Twitter communications were used to determine the timing of messaging about COVID-19 prevention. Regression analyses examined how political preferences influenced the association between governors’ COVID-19 communications and residents’ mobility patterns. Governors’ recommendations for residents to stay at home preceded stay-at-home orders, and led to a significant reduction in mobility that was comparable to the effect of the orders themselves. Effects were larger in Democratic than Republican-leaning counties, a pattern more pronounced under Republican governors. Democratic-leaning counties also responded more to recommendations from Republican than Democratic governors. Political partisanship influences citizens’ decisions to voluntarily engage in physical distancing in response to communications by their governor.

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Guy and Kim, Soojong and Rexer, Jonah and Thirumurthy, Harsha, Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States (April 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3578695 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3578695

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economic
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://web.sas.upenn.edu/ggros/

Soojong Kim

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Jonah Rexer (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Harsha Thirumurthy

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

423 Guardian Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Population Studies Center ( email )

PA
United States

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