Technology Threats to Employment, Issues, and Candidate and Party Preferences in the United States

Tobias Heinrich, Christopher Witko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research indicates that susceptibility to having one’s job replaced by technology is associated with candidate and party preferences in affluent democracies, but there is little understanding of why. We investigate whether workers exposed to technology are more supportive of candidates and parties that prioritize the economy, unemployment, and welfare state programs, currently or with historical reputations for doing so. In the United States which we examine here, however, technology threatening jobs has not been politically salient and partisan attachments are strong, which could limit issue-based conversions in candidate preferences. To examine these possibilities, we use survey experiments randomizing exposure to information about the individual-level threat of losing one’s job to technology and hypothetical candidate issue priorities in experiments with and without party labels. We find that there are some differences in “issue premiums” among high-exposure individuals in the party labels experiment, but whether individuals are made aware of their exposure does not explain any issue-based variation in candidate preferences. We also find that when made aware of their exposure to technology, high- and low-exposure Republicans and low-exposure independents become slightly more supportive of Republican candidates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-811
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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