Disaster politics

A paper I’ve been meaning to post for some time:

Using rainfall, public relief, and election data from India, we examine how governments respond to adverse shocks and how voters react to these responses. The data show that voters punish the incumbent party for weather events beyond its control. However, we find evidence that fewer voters punish the ruling party when the party responds vigorously to the crisis.

Punishing incumbents for events beyond their control is not necessarily irrational or silly. Voters have trouble distinguishing real performance from adverse shocks, and so are going to reward politicians in good times and punish them in bad times.

Even so, my faith in humanity is strained somewhat when voters punish politicians for shark attacks and the flu.