Pathogen Threat Increases Electoral Success for Conservative Parties: Results From a Natural Experiment With COVID-19 in France

Jais Adam-Troian*, Eric Bonetto, Florent Varet, Thomas Arciszewski, Théo Guiller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Conservative ideology is closely linked with pathogen prevalence, and adherence to conservative values increases under pathogen threat. To this day, few studies have demonstrated this effect using ecological voter data. For the first time, we analyze results from an election (the 2020 French local election) which was held during the growing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread in the country. Using mixed modeling on county-level data (N = 96), we show that perceived COVID-19 threat (search volume indices) but not real threat (prevalence rates) prior to the election are positively associated with an increase in conservative votes only. These results were robust to adjustment on several covariates including abstention rates, prior electoral scores for conservative parties, and economic characteristics. Overall, a 1% increase in COVID-19 search volumes lead to an increase in conservative votes of.25%, 95% CI [.08,.41]. These results highlight the relevance of evolutionary theory for understanding real-life political behavior and indicate that the current COVID-19 pandemic could have a substantial impact on electoral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Keywords

  • behavioral immune system
  • conservative
  • COVID-19
  • election
  • pathogen threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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