COVID-19 and affective polarization. A Spanish cautionary tale

Carol Galais (UAB) and Daniel Balinhas (UAB)
7th april 13:00h
Sala de Juntes – Facultat de Ciències Polítiques i Sociologia de la UAB or Teams (link)
Scholars have related Affective Polarization (AP) to saliency of partisan and social identities, ideology, elite polarization, negative advertising, inequality, conflict news frames or partisan media. Nevertheless, little attention has been paid to short-term temporal dynamics. To fill this gap, we aim at assessing the effects of an unexpected critical conjuncture, which might have altered the existing AP dynamics in unprecedented ways: the COVID-19 pandemic. We posit that it might have boosted AP in two ways, which articulate our two hypotheses. First, by becoming a new issue in the public agenda, forcing incumbent and challenger parties to position themselves and suggest new policies and measures; ultimately forcing citizens to engage into issue-evaluation processes. Second, by enhancing death awareness and mortality salience. In order to test these mechanisms, we rely on an online convenience survey whose sampling procedure was based in a snowball strategy using different social media (N=3760) and a panel representative survey (N=1385) from which we will use the two last waves (June 2019 and May 2020). Our results show greater support for our first hypothesis, as the variables tapping on governments’ assessment and threats to the country have greater effects on individuals’ levels of AP.
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