What is it about?

Based on 1,411,200 daily approval ratings of 11 heads of government from geographically and culturally diverse countries and 912,048 weekly approval ratings of all 50 us state governors between January 1st and April 30th, 2020, researchers report that leaders’ approval tended to increase with new daily or weekly confirmed covid-19 cases, suggesting that the severity of the pandemic in its early stages is positively associated with support for political leaders.

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Why is it important?

We observe these findings among countries that are culturally and geographically diverse, and even among leaders who are strongly disliked by citizens prior to the pandemic. Our findings could have important voting implications during or immediately after the pandemic. As an example, the Korean ruling party won the most seats in the house by any party since 1960 in an election held during the pandemic in April 2020, as well as some other European countries’ incumbent political candidates during the pandemic.

Perspectives

I was surprised when I first eyeballed some of these data back in March and found that many world leaders’ ratings increase despite their poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. I decided to look at these data more carefully with a great team of international co-authors, resulting in this publication.

Kai Chi Yam
National University of Singapore

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This page is a summary of: The rise of COVID-19 cases is associated with support for world leaders, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2009252117.
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