Public policy and economic fear: an experimental approach
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Political scientists have long studied the connection between macroeconomic performance and presidential approval, electoral success, and voter satisfaction. Given the purported relationship between economic anxiety and votes for Donald Trump, a better understanding of this relationship is timely. The present analysis improves upon the economic voting literature by assessing this connection in an experimental context. Using data collected from undergraduate students and a Mechanical Turk sample, this analysis measures differences in opinion between control respondents and treatment respondents who received various economic fear stimuli. In addition, the analysis questions whether policy opinions differ based on the interaction between a treatment and income level, and whether certain types of economic fear are more likely to shift policy opinions. This analysis finds that economic fear is not pervasive enough to shift policy support, but a variety of weak differences due to income interactions and fear-stimuli exist. Largely, this piece accords with analyses performed using nationally representative samples and defines American policy opinions as largely driven by income, education, and party identification.