Trumped by Trump? Public Support for Vote By Mail Voting in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

43 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Joshua David Clinton

Joshua David Clinton

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

John S. Lapinski

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Sarah Lentz

Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies

Stephen Pettigrew

Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election

Date Written: June 16, 2020

Abstract

How much is support for vote by mail (VBM) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, partisanship, and recent efforts by partisan elites to politicize discussions about expanding the use of VBM in November 2020? Using surveys of registered voters conducted in April and May 2020 we characterize how changing concerns about COVID 19 and increased partisan messaging affects public support for VBM. We show that the bipartisan support for VBM in April 2020 falls sharply after just six weeks because: Republicans became less worried about catching COVID-19, and unconcerned Republicans also became more opposed to VBM. The pandemic originally increased public support for expanding VBM to help combat the spread of COVID-19 - creating a relative unique opportunity to examine the public’s willingness to reconsider how elections are administered - but decreasing COVID-19 concerns among Republicans and increased opposition among unconcerned Republicans (perhaps due to increased partisan messaging) has combined to increase partisan divisions in otherwise historically high levels of public support for VBM.

Keywords: Vote By Mail, COVID-19, Partisanship, Election Administration

Suggested Citation

Clinton, Joshua David and Lapinski, John S. and Lentz, Sarah and Pettigrew, Stephen, Trumped by Trump? Public Support for Vote By Mail Voting in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3630334 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3630334

Joshua David Clinton (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

John S. Lapinski

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Sarah Lentz

Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Stephen Pettigrew

Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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