Participation in the Wake of Adversity: Blame Attribution and Policy-Oriented Evaluations

Levin, Ines and J. Andrew Sinclair and R. Michael Alvarez
Levin, I., Sinclair, J. A., & Alvarez, R. M. (2015). Participation in the Wake of Adversity: Blame Attribution and Policy-Oriented Evaluations. Political Behavior, 1-26.

In this paper we investigate to what extent perceptions of economic conditions, policy-oriented evaluations, and blame attribution affected Californians’ involvement in political activities in 2010. We use a statistical methodology that allows us to study not only the behavior of the average citizen, but also the behavior of “types” of citizens with latent predispositions that incline them toward participation or abstention. The 2010 election is an excellent case study, because it was a period when citizens were still suffering the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis and many were concerned about the state’s budgetary crisis. We find that individuals who blamed one of the parties for the problems with the budget process, and who held a position on the 2010 Affordable Care Act, were often considerably more likely to participate. We also find, however, that the impact of economic evaluations, positions on the health care reform, and blame attributions was contingent on citizens’ latent participation propensities and depended on the class of political activity.

Wagner Faculty