John T. Gasper is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Education City, P.O. Box 24866, Doha, Qatar. (email@example.com). Andrew Reeves is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Boston University, 232 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Make It Rain? Retrospection and the Attentive Electorate in the Context of Natural Disasters
Article first published online: 1 FEB 2011
©2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 2, pages 340–355, April 2011
How to Cite
Gasper, J. T. and Reeves, A. (2011), Make It Rain? Retrospection and the Attentive Electorate in the Context of Natural Disasters. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 340–355. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00503.x
All data and replication materials are available from http://people.bu.edu/areeves.
- Issue published online: 1 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 1 FEB 2011
Are election outcomes driven by events beyond the control of politicians? Democratic accountability requires that voters make reasonable evaluations of incumbents. Although natural disasters are beyond human control, the response to these events is the responsibility of elected officials. In a county-level analysis of gubernatorial and presidential elections from 1970 to 2006, we examine the effects of weather events and governmental responses. We find that electorates punish presidents and governors for severe weather damage. However, we find that these effects are dwarfed by the response of attentive electorates to the actions of their officials. When the president rejects a request by the governor for federal assistance, the president is punished and the governor is rewarded at the polls. The electorate is able to separate random events from governmental responses and attribute actions based on the defined roles of these two politicians.