Government Performance: COVID-19

22 Apr 24

Government Performance: COVID-19

Political partisanship can bias evaluations, with government partisans perceiving outcomes more favourably, or attributing less responsibility for bad outcomes during and after a crisis.

New research, published in Political Behavior, uses panel data and a new survey. The survey of more than 6,000 adults, examines partisan motivated reasoning in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Findings suggest that voters are biased with selective evaluation, selective attribution, and most novelly, selective recall, which could have important implications for the limits of democratic accountability.

Professor Geoffrey Evans, Nuffield Politics Research Centre, University of Oxford, said:

‘Accountability relies on voters accurately evaluating government performance in addressing the important issues of the day. Our new research demonstrates that in the UK’s response to COVID-19 there is evidence of both current and recall partisan biases. Opposition partisans are not only more likely to blame the government for negative outcomes they are less likely to recall positive aspects of the government’s recent and past performance unless prompted to do so. In a sense, voters’ tend to re-write history unless given good reasons not to.'

Read the full paper from authors Dan Snow and Geoffrey Evans, Partisanship in a Pandemic: Biased Voter Assessments of Past and Present Government Performance.