Building on literature from political science and psychology, I argue that political attention on animals and animal-friendly political candidates cause voter backlash. I test this using two different kinds of experiments with large, representative samples. I ask respondents to consider political candidates running for office in a U.S. presidential primary context. I find that, overall, political attention on the need to reduce meat consumption for environmental reasons caused voter backlash compared to both a control condition and attention on the need to reduce reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles (also for environmental reasons). But, the heterogeneous effects of partisan identification were strong: voter backlash was mainly driven by Republicans and Democrats were neutral. Surprisingly, candidates who put attention on farm animal rights during elections faced no voter backlash from Republicans or Democrats. Animal-friendly candidates, particularly Black women and Latinas, with attributes that demonstrate personal concern for farm animals and strong support for animal rights generally fared very well in elections, receiving large boosts in voter support. This work launches a research agenda in political psychology that "brings the animal in" to politics.
|Publication Title||Front Psychol|
|Author Address||Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States.|
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