Pandemic Politics: COVID-19 as a New Type of Political Emergency
Forthcoming in Political Psychology
61 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 18, 2021
Does a state of emergency necessarily contract human behavior? In times of security crises, for instance, citizens overcome their divides. Our analysis explores the relationship between county-level partisanship in the United States during COVID-19 and mobility. We provide an original theoretical analysis to distinguish pandemic politics from politics in times of emergency as we had known them. Our framework helps reconcile previous contradictory findings about this type of emergency politics. Such a frame is needed as it has been a century since the last major global pandemic, and since Coronavirus may not be the last. There are five reasons to distinguish COVID-19 from previously familiar types of emergency politics: psychological, national sentiments, policy-, elite-, and time-related. Our extensive mobility bigdata (462,115 county*days from March-August 2020) are uniquely informative about pandemic politics. In times of pandemic, people literally vote with their feet on government actions. The data are highly representative of the US population. At the pandemic outbreak, our exploratory innovative analysis suggests, political divides are exacerbated. Later, with mixed messages about the plague from party leadership, such exceedingly partisan patterns dissipate. They make way to less politically-infused and more educationally, demographically and economically driven behavior.
Keywords: pandemic politics; COVID-19; emergency politics; political partisanship; rally around the flag; US President; mobility patterns; political ideology; residential mobility; workplace mobility; retail & recreation mobility
JEL Classification: I1; I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation