Party in the pandemic: the effects of partisan biases on evaluations of President Trump's response to COVID-19
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With over 550,000 American lives claimed by COVID-19, over 30 million confirmed infections, and historic job losses across the nation, evaluations of the pandemic response from the Trump Administration have been polarizing. In the eyes of many Americans, President Trump’s Coronavirus response has been lacking in swiftness and efficacy, while many others see the governmental response as competent or having exceeded expectations. In light of previous research, to expect these evaluations to be politically polarized would be reasonable, but at what point do these partisan biases fall away? This survey study will test how partisan biases influence Americans’ evaluations of President Donald Trump’s – and President Biden’s – handling of the Coronavirus pandemic response – factoring in how respondents have been personally affected by the pandemic or personally know someone who has been. These experiences with COVID-19 will be quantified by proximity to loss of life due to, and infection of, COVID-19, as well as job loss as a result of the effects of the virus. As devastating as these experiences may be, I expect the influence of partisan biases to be overwhelmingly correlated with respondents’ evaluations of both President Trump’s and President Biden’s COVID-19 response when compared to the correlation of personal experience. As the findings will suggest, these expectations prove to be accurate; Republicans indicate substantially higher levels of satisfaction with President Trump’s pandemic response when compared to Democrats, with the reverse relationship observed for evaluations of President Biden, and this holds true at all levels of proximity. Further, partisan identity yields a considerably larger magnitude of correlation with these evaluations when compared to personal experience. Unfortunately, Americans do not seem to hold their presidents accountable for their actions (or inaction) by learning from even the most traumatic experiences; party overpowers all else. The findings of this study will greatly enrich the current literature on the extent to which partisan biases influence evaluations of government, and will provide insight into the reliability of democratic accountability, and, resultantly, the very functioning of American democracy.
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