Shot To Win: Electoral Prospects and Republicans' Openness to the COVID-19 Vaccine



The future of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States will likely depend upon Americans’ openness to vaccination against the virus. Yet a sizable partisan gap in perceptions of the vaccine has emerged. In this Letter, we propose that partisans’ psychological aversion to electoral loss presents an opportunity for the deployment of framing messages to increase openness to the COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, we analyze the effects of a “Shot to Win” (STW) message that frames vaccination as a means of ensuring that a party’s members remain healthy enough to vote and defeat the opposing party. Results of a pre-registered survey experiment provide evidence that STW messaging increases Republicans’ openness to vaccination across a variety of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes, and that STW’s effectiveness extends beyond its function as a mere elite cue. More broadly, these results exemplify how out-party attitudes might be effectively leveraged in service of the public interest.



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