Join Neil Malhotra, Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business for his talk:
“Policy Outcomes and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Farmers’ Trade War Experiences”
This discussion is part of the American Politics Speaker Series sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Center for American Political Studies.
This will be an in-person event open to Harvard ID holders only. Lunch will be served.
Registration is required, please REGISTER HERE.
How do individual voters' policy experiences affect their political engagement? While this question is critical to the literatures on economic voting and distributive politics, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on how the extent of economic benefits or losses---not simply their presence or absence---might drive turnout among an incumbent's supporters or opponents. This lack of evidence can be traced to the difficulty of measuring individual voters' policy experiences. To address this question, we examine a natural experiment embedded in President Trump's 2018 Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which provided economic relief to a core Republican constituency: farmers who were harmed by his trade war with China. Due to idiosyncrasies of program design, the MFP ultimately undercompensated some farmers for their trade war losses---and significantly overcompensated others---based solely on their 2018 crop portfolios. Analyzing survey data from 575 Midwestern farmers, we show that this variation significantly affected the perceived helpfulness of the intervention. Further, we link consecutive snapshots of a national voter file to USDA administrative data to build an individual-level database of MFP benefits, trade war losses, historical farm attributes, and turnout history for over 175,000 affected voters. Despite the large impact of the MFP on agricultural producers' political attitudes, we find that improved policy outcomes had a negligible impact on voter turnout among Republican producers in the 2018 midterm elections.
For more information about this event, please visit the Ash Center website.