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Affective Polarization Did Not Increase During the Coronavirus Pandemic (WP-20-51)

Levi Boxell, Jacob Conway, James Druckman, and Matthew Gentzkow

The researchers document trends in affective polarization during the coronavirus pandemic. In their main measure, affective polarization is relatively flat between July 2019 and February 2020, then falls significantly around the onset of the pandemic. Two other data sources show no evidence of an increase in polarization around the onset of the pandemic. Finally, they show in an experiment that priming respondents to think about the coronavirus pandemic significantly reduces affective polarization.

Levi Boxell, King Center on Global Development, Stanford University

Jacob Conway, Department of Economics, Stanford University

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Matthew Gentzkow, Professor of Economics, Stanford University

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