I wasn’t ever sure that protests had any real effect on elections, but, apparently, they do. I was always apprehensive that protesting felt good. It felt like you were doing something. You got all emotional and were out with other like minded people. It is the effect of being in a big crowd. However, I feared that once you protested, the individuals would go home and (a) feel like they’d done their part and (b) spent all of that emotional energy, and, as a result, not necessarily go out and vote. This study suggests that my fears were unfounded.
Protests help people feel energized and galvanized. Protesters go home and start thinking about what else they can do for the cause. For the side protesting that means turning out for the next election and for the side being protested against, suppressing the turnout. Interestingly, it is not symmetrical… or rather is oddly symmetrical. According to the study liberal protests boost Democratic turnout by 2% and conservative protests suppress it by 2% while liberal protests suppress Repube turn out by 6% and conservative protests boost it by 6%. Now, that’s an interesting statistics. I will note that in their data base, there probably weren’t as many instances of conservative protests as liberal. I mean can we really call the Moral Majority of Reagan’s time protests? So, what does that leave, the Tea Party mob?
I guess one thing that protesting signifies is a willingness to act on one’s convictions and introduces a group effect to behavior. One way to increase voter turn out is let people know which of their neighbors have voted. It is that collective intelligence of the beliefs and behaviors of those around us significantly shaping our beliefs and behaviors.
Have a read of the study yourself, and let me know what stands out for you in the comments!
How Protests Can Swing Elections
A new study shows that both liberal and conservative protests have had a real impact on U.S. House elections.
Edmund L. Andrews 30 October 2018
From anti-war marches in the 1960s to the Tea Party rallies of 2010 and the almost nonstop progressive protests in 2018, marching in the streets has been a fixture of modern American life.
But do protests actually accomplish anything in terms of election results or the balance of party power?
Absolutely yes, according to a new study based on 30 years of data.
Co-authored by Sarah A. Soule at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Daniel Q. Gillion at University of Pennsylvania, the study finds that spikes in both liberal and conservative protest activity can increase or decrease a candidate’s vote by enough to change the final outcome.
“Many people are skeptical that protests matter to electoral outcomes, but our paper finds that they have a profound effect on voter behavior,” says Soule. “Liberal protests lead Democrats to vote on the issues that resonate for them, and conservative protests lead Republicans to do the same. It happens on both sides of the ideological spectrum.”
The media accompanying this post was the original photo published with the article. Photographer: James Lawler Duggan Service: Reuters