Raab, E. R. (2021). Send In The Clowns: An Analysis Of Public Opinion And Political Participation In Districts That Sent Conspiracy Theorists To Congress. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2454
What happens when candidates who support conspiracy theories get elected to Congress? Is there anything different going on in the districts that elect conspiracy theorists? Does belief in conspiracy theories affect political participation? This study answers those questions by looking at both political participation and public opinion through the lens of districts that elected conspiracy theorists. I began with a content analysis (N = 369) of the local newspaper articles in two districts that elected QAnon supporters as well as two comparison districts. I characterize the local news landscape in these districts, and offer suggestions on routes for further study. Next, I conducted a survey (N = 420)) in these same four districts, and used this data to test whether political participation and public opinion differ significantly between the two districts that elected conspiracy theorists, and the two comparison districts. The small N of the survey sample makes it difficult to truly draw robust causal conclusions. Linear regression models show that the predisposition for conspiracy thinking appears to be a statistically significant predictor of both political participation and political opinion in the comparison between districts that elected conspiracy theorists, and districts that did not. However, these findings are complicated by models that suggest that these finding are only true in competitive districts.