Black lives matter protests and the 2020 Presidential election


Can protest influence elections? We examine whether Black Lives Matters (BLM) protest during the summer of 2020 shaped the November presidential election. We hypothesize that BLM demonstrations are associated with increased voting for the Democratic candidate. We examine a secondary hypothesis that more contentious events (with arrests, injury, or violence) are likely to produce a negative impact. We use data collected from news media, official election returns, and survey data combined with demographic and political control measures to test our hypotheses. We find strong evidence that BLM protests were associated an increased likelihood of voting for the Democratic candidate, with this effect concentrated among the less contentious protest events. Our findings bolster and extend the emerging theoretical claims and evidence that protest plays a substantial role in shaping electoral behavior.

Social Movement Studies