Many people claim that politicians use fear to manipulate citizens. Using a model, we examine how select attributes of fear affect a politician's ability to scare citizens into supporting policies that they would otherwise reject. In the model, the politician can alert citizens to the presence of a threat. But his claim need not be true. How citizens respond to this claim differs from most game-theoretic models. Our representation of this response follows from research in psychology, has distinct conscious and subconscious components, and does not presume efficient processing (i.e., Bayesian updating). Our conclusions counter popular claims about when politicians will use fear to manipulate citizens. They also highlight issues (abstract, distant) and leaders (secretive) for which recent empirical findings about how fear affects politics will—and will not—generalize to other cases.