Philip Moniz has published “How Bad Is It? Elite Influence and the Perceived Seriousness of the Coronavirus Pandemic” in the Journal of Experimental Political Science.
Abstract: In spite of its immense global impact, Republicans and Democrats disagree on how serious a problem the coronavirus pandemic is. One likely reason is the political elites to whom partisans listen. As a means of shoring up support, President Trump has largely downplayed and but sometimes hyped the severity of the virus’s toll on American lives. Do these messages influence the perceived seriousness of the virus, how the president is evaluated as well as support for and compliance with social distancing guidelines? Results suggest that Republican identifiers had already crystallized their views on the virus’s seriousness, the president’s performance, and social distancing policies and behaviors. Unexpectedly, information critical of President Trump’s policy decisions produced a backlash causing people to show less concern about the virus’s death toll and rate the president’s performance even more highly.