Scholarly research has found a weak and inconsistent role for self-interest in public opinion, and mixed evidence for a relationship between local pollution risks and support for environmental protection. In this study, I argue that focusing events can induce self-interested responses from people living in communities whose economies are implicated by the event. I leverage a unique 12-wave panel survey administered between 2008 and 2010 to analyze public opinion toward offshore oil drilling before and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I find that residence in counties highly dependent upon the offshore drilling industry was predictive of pro-drilling attitudes following the spill, though not prior to the spill. In addition, there is no significant evidence that residence in a county afflicted by the spill influenced opinion. This study concludes that local support for drilling often arises only after focusing events make the issue salient.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 26, 2013
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