Daniel Bischof: Does exposure to radical right marches affect voting and political preferences?
Politicians and journalists frequently emphasize that radical right grassroots mobilization matters for elections and preferences in exposed communities. However up until today, social scientists provide limited answers to the question how radical right marches might matter for individual preferences and elections. The organizers of these marches explicitly seek to provide “safe spaces” for divergent, radical positions and, thereby, attempt to change the local perception of support for these radical views.
Thus, marches might indeed affect preferences and voting in exposed communities by boosting a biased perception of political norms. Focusing on the German case and combining geo-coded protest data derived from the German security services with election results and public opinion data, I test these arguments employing difference-in-differences, matching and instrumental variable models.I find robust evidence that radical right marches affect elections and support for nationalism in exposed communities. The findings have important implications for contemporary democracies and questions how societies need to engage with radical right grassroots mobilization.