Krzysztof Krakowski (Collegio Carlo Alberto)
28 October 2019 @ 12:45 - 13:45
“Violence Against Politicians and Public Opinion: Evidence from Poland”
Abstract: How does violence against politicians affect public opinion? Does it increase or reduce support for the targeted party? While the drivers of violence against politicians have been thoroughly studied, empirical research on how violence against politicians affects public opinion remains surprisingly limited. We study these effects using evidence from a recent lethal attack on the opposition mayor of Gdansk, Poland. We gauge changes in public opinion in two ways. First, we analyze engagement with Twitter content posted by opposition and government politicians using a difference-in-differences framework. Second, we use a public opinion survey collected at the time of the attack, comparing respondents interviewed just before and just after the attack. Our findings show increased support for the government—the party the perpetrator sympathized with. We explain these unexpected findings with reference to negative returns to negative campaigning in the aftermath of political violence. Content analysis of tweets and news media confirm the proposed mechanism: the public punished the opposition for engaging in negative campaigning right after the attack.