Albertson, Guiler: Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms

Bethany Albertson and Kim Guiler published, “Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms,” in Research and Politics.

Abstract: Under what conditions does conspiratorial rhetoric about election rigging change attitudes? We investigated this question using a survey experiment the day before and the morning of the 2016 US presidential election. We hypothesized that exposure to conspiratorial rhetoric about election interference would significantly heighten negative emotions (anxiety, anger) and undermine support for democratic institutions. Specifically, we expected that Democrats who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Russians in US elections, and that Republicans who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Democratic Party in US elections would express less support for key democratic norms. Our evidence largely supported our hypotheses. Americans exposed to a story claiming the election would be tampered with expressed less confidence in democratic institutions, and these effects were moderated by prior partisan beliefs about the actors most likely responsible for election meddling.