International Relations

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

Authors

Abstract

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 backsliding. I provide the first natural experimental test of this hypothesis by exploiting that the January 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol unexpectedly occurred while Gallup was conducting nationally representative surveys in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Romania, and Vietnam. Because Gallup recruits respondents using random digit dialing I can identify the effect of the January 6 insurrection by comparing U.S. leadership approval among respondents that were interviewed just before, and just after, January 6, 2021. Surprisingly, I find that the insurrection had no effect on U.S. approval abroad. This suggests that American soft power may rely significantly less on America actually living up to its "beacon of democracy" mantra than typically presumed.

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Thumbnail image of van Noort, Sam (2022) The January 6 Insurrection and America's Standing in the World- Natural Experimental Evidence from Five Unexpectedly Interrupted Public Opinion Surveys.pdf

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