Focusing Events and Public Opinion: Evidence from the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Focusing Events and Public Opinion: Evidence from the Deepwater Horizon Disaster 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

Focusing Events and Public Opinion: Evidence from the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

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Springer US
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Social Sciences, general; Political Science, general; Sociology, general
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