How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Far-Right Populist Sentiment in the United States: An Empirical Analysis
King, Jeremiah W.
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Current literature identifies wide-ranging predictors for populist and conspiratorial sentiment like nativism, economic inequality, social isolation, and other mental health issues. This paper presents an empirical analysis investigating how COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) measures affected far-right populist sentiment in the United States. This study conducts logit regression using American National Election Studies (ANES) data from 2016 and 2020 to make the novel assertion that hopelessness and pride are both strongly associated with populist sentiment. It also reveals that other socioeconomical and political factors have greater influence than COVID-19 social restrictions. Logit regression of state-level data suggests that lifting NPI measures decreases feelings of anxiety and depression, feelings that prior research associates with being more vulnerable to extreme sentiment. These findings both compliment and contradict current literature and, despite this study not presenting causations, it does provide a theoretical framework for future analysis.