Working Paper: Are Voters Polarized Along Party Lines About How to Run Elections During the COVID-19 Crisis?
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Working Paper: Are Voters Polarized Along Party Lines About How to Run Elections During the COVID-19 Crisis?

  • Author(s): Lockhart, Mackenzie
  • HILL, Seth
  • Merolla, Jennifer
  • Romero, Mindy
  • Kousser, Thaddeus
  • et al.
Abstract

Are voters as polarized as political leaders when it comes to their preferences about how to cast their ballots in November 2020 and their policy positions on how elections should be run in light of the COVID-19 outbreak? Prior research has shown little party divide on voting by mail, with nearly equal percentages of voters in both parties choosing to vote this way where it is an option. Has a divide opened up this year in how voters aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties prefer to cast a ballot? We address these questions by presenting the findings of an online survey of a nationally diverse sample of 5,612 eligible voters, fielded from April 8-10, with an embedded experiment providing treated respondents with scientific projections about the COVID-19 outbreak. We find an eight-percentage point difference between Democrats and Republicans in their preference for voting by mail in the control group, but this party divide doubles in the treatment group. We also find that exposure to scientific projections about the outbreak increases support for vote-by-mail legislation and confidence in vote-by-mail election integrity for both Democrats and Republicans.

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