Weather to Protest: The Effect of Black Lives Matter Protests on the 2020 Presidential Election
28 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 22, 2021
Do mass mobilizations bring about social change? Prior research provides mixed findings on whether large-scale collective action helps protesters further their cause. This paper adds new evidence to this debate by investigating the causal impact of racial injustice protests on the 2020 presidential election. Following the death of G. P. Floyd Jr. on 25 May 2020, a series of Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the US. Using cross-county variation in rainfall as an exogenous source of variation in protests, we document a marked shift in support for the Democratic candidate in counties that experienced more protesting activity. As a consequence, BLM protests might have tilted the election in favor of the democratic party. We additionally document that BLM protests did not affect the overall turnout rate, which suggests that the increase in Democratic support primarily resulted from a progressive shift among undecided voters.
Keywords: Collective Action, Black Lives Matter, Presidential Elections, Protests, IV
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