After the Flood: Disasters, Ideological Voting and Electoral Choices in Chile

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Abstract

Can natural disasters affect voters’ electoral choices, and in particular, ideological voting? Even as climate change has increased concerns about the frequency and intensity of disasters, the effects of these negative events on voter behavior are not yet fully understood. Though ideological labels are known to be informative heuristics, the literature has thus far overlooked their role after natural hazards. Might affected citizens become more likely to select candidates with an ideology that can be associated with what victims need after a disaster? Answering this question is difficult since disaster damage can be correlated with multiple victims’ unobserved characteristics. To address this challenge, I use a natural experiment created by the floods that occurred in Chile in 2015 to take advantage of random variation in citizens’ exposure to a disaster. I then capture voters’ electoral choices using a conjoint survey experiment. The findings show that material damage caused by this disaster increased the probability of voters selecting left-wing and independent candidates. Qualitative evidence from interviews helps to illuminate the causal mechanisms underlying these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1985-2004
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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