International Relations

The January 6 Insurrection and America's Standing Abroad: Natural Experimental Evidence from Five Unexpectedly Interrupted Public Opinion Surveys



American geopolitical power partly relies on foreign public support for its leadership. Pundits worry that this support is evaporating now that the United States—which claims to be the world’s beacon of democracy—has itself experienced democratic back- sliding. I provide the first natural experimental test of this hypothesis by exploiting that the January 6 insurrection of the US Capitol unexpectedly occurred while Gallup was conducting nationally-representative surveys in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Romania, and Vietnam. Because Gallup uses random digit dialing I can identify the effect by comparing US leadership approval among respondents that were interviewed just before, and just after, January 6, 2021. I find that the insurrection had no effect on US approval. If even a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election does not affect US approval abroad it is unlikely that any other domestic anti-democratic event will.


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