How Protests Can Swing Elections | Stanford Graduate School of Business – The Psy of Life

With all the protests after Roe v. Wade and all the gnashing of pearls and clutching of teeth that we on the left are experiencing, I thought re-blogging this post from 2 January 2020 would help bolster spirits. If the base wasn’t energized before this, we are now. The momentum of these protests will carry us through the November election. Use this energy to organize, register voters, and get out the vote.

How Protests Can Swing Elections | Stanford Graduate School of Business – The Psy of Life

How Protests Can Swing Elections | Stanford Graduate School of Business – The Psy of Life

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.”

Continue reading at The Standford Graduate School of Business: How Protests Can Swing Elections | Stanford Graduate School of Business

Photo Accreditation

The media accompanying this post was the original photo published with the article. Photographer: James Lawler Duggan Service: Reuters

13 replies »

  1. it will take more than half of the population to band together, to protest, otherwise, the voices won’t be loud enough to get heard by our governments, and, we needed to persist in our protests, which normally, don’t happen enough either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Tauru!

      The only way we are loud enough for our government to hear us is through voting. Protest has its role, mostly as a galvanizer of voting and energizer of the masses.

      If we cypher it out carefully, we realize that MAGA really doesn’t make up that large of a percentage of the population. There are about 350 million people in the US. 74 million of them voted for Trump in 2020. That’s about 20% of the population. Of course, 81 million voted for Biden, or 23%, so there’s that. That makes around 30% of the voting age population MAGA, 30% Democrat, and the rest independent.

      Our best bet to influence our government is through voting.


      PS Thank you for writing! I hope to see you around Ye Olde Blogge again soon!


  2. This is interesting even though I am Politically Homeless I read articles from both sides. I don’t believe in a big government and feel that is truly the problem with our country. However I would not have thought about how protesting has effected voters. I wonder if the study only took in account peaceful protest or the ones that was burning businesses. I do think that the left protests way more than the conservatives. The way they do things is different too. The truckers who tend to be dominately conservative was blocking streets and blowing horns outside the white house during trumps term. These protests seem to not have made a single difference for their cause. So I think how you organize plays a big role in it as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bigstock!

      You’re right, liberals tend to protest a bit more than conservatives do. I would have to go back and reread the article to determine how they handled riots versus protests. It is interesting to note that any notion that the BLM protests of a couple of years ago being violent was mostly misinformation and rightwing provocateurs, the mishigas in Portland being excepted, unless you count the identityless government agents “guarding” the federal building as provocateurs.

      The correlation is a very strong one, though. Protests don’t tend to actually change policy directly; they do seem to affect the outcome of elections.

      I thought the trucker convoy thing was during Biden’s term. I thought they were protesting Biden and Trudeau’s #COVID19 policies.


      Liked by 2 people

      • The one for Covid was during Biden’s that was dominantly Canadian truckers the American truckers had one convoy from California to Washington DC in support of the Canadian protest. The one I was referring to during trumps term was over agent gouging load rates. At that time the rate has dropped from over 2.00 a mile to 1.25 on average. It is also needed to note all the people protesting were owner operator truckers. The big companies are ok with this happening becouse they are the broker and the haulers. Needless to say it changed nothing they made enough noise that president trump did come out to the streets and talk to the truckers but other than that nothing happened. I do feel the reason why is big trucking pays lobbyists to push for higher insurance to tougher emissions. The reason is it pushes the independent guy out of the market.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bigstock!

          Trump was nothing if he wasn’t for pushing the small and medium sized independent operators out of every industry in favor of corporate ownership. That’s what the tariff wars were about, especially over farm products. It’s why housing prices are the way they are and oil and gas companies are gouging us on gasoline.


          Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll have to read the study and pass it along to my Indivisible friends and others. One of the arguments often raised against protesting “too much” is that it will piss off the voters on the other side than energize your own side. That appears not to be true.

    Liked by 2 people

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