Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 17 > Issue 4

Affective Polarization Did Not Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Levi Boxell, Stanford University, USA, lboxell@stanford.edu , Jacob Conway, Stanford University, USA, jcconway@stanford.edu , James N. Druckman, Northwestern University, USA, druckman@northwestern.edu , Matthew Gentzkow, Stanford University, USA, gentzkow@stanford.edu
Suggested Citation
Levi Boxell, Jacob Conway, James N. Druckman and Matthew Gentzkow (2022), "Affective Polarization Did Not Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 17: No. 4, pp 491-512. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00021027

Publication Date: 25 Oct 2022
© 2022 L. Boxell et al.
Political economy,  Political psychology,  Political parties
Partisanshippolitical polarizationcoronaviruspublic opiniongroup attitudes


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In this article:
COVID-19 and Affective Polarization 
Trends in Affective Polarization 
Survey Experiment 
Rising Polarization following the Murder of George Floyd 


We document trends in affective polarization during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our main measure, affective polarization is relatively flat between July 2019 and February 2020, then falls significantly around the onset of the pandemic. Three of five other data sources display a similar downward trend, with two of five data sources showing no significant change. A survey experiment shows that priming respondents to think about the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduces affective polarization.