App Stats: Wasow on "Violence and Voting: Did the 1960s Urban Riots Reshape American Politics?"

We hope you can join us this Wednesday, April 18, 2012 for the Applied Statistics Workshop. Omar Wasow, a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Government and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, will give a presentation entitled "Violence and Voting: Did the 1960s Urban Riots Reshape American Politics?" A light lunch will be served at 12 pm and the talk will begin at 12.15.

"Violence and Voting: Did the 1960s Urban Riots Reshape American Politics?"
Omar Wasow
Government Department, Harvard University
CGIS K354 (1737 Cambridge St.)
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 12.00 pm


Between 1964 and 1971, more than 750 riots flared up in black neighborhoods across the United States. Scholarship on how the American polity respond to these violent protests is contested. Some scholars argue that urban riots produced a conservative ``backlash'' among white voters, while other scholars find little or no effect. Using a measure that incorporates the location, timing and severity of urban riots between 1964 and 1971, I examine whether increased exposure to urban riots is associated with decreased support for the Democratic party. In the 1964, 1968 and 1972 presidential elections, I find a strong negative relationship between exposure to civil unrest and the county-level Democratic vote share. I find a similar negative relationship between exposure to riots and Democratic vote share in congressional elections between 1968 and 1972. Finally, I find that in counterfactual scenarios of fewer riots the Democratic presidential nominee, Hubert Humphrey, would have beaten the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon, in the 1968 election. As African Americans were strongly identified with the Democratic party in this time period, my results suggest that, in at least some contexts, political violence by a minority group may contribute to a backlash among segments of the mass electorate and encourage outcomes directly at odds with the preferences of the protestors.

Posted by Konstantin Kashin at April 16, 2012 12:53 AM