Blaming Washington for Acts of God

An earthquake. A hurricane. The East Coast is having one tough month.

Princeton political scientists Chris Achen and Larry Bartels say that voters will blame incumbents for many disasters, including shark attacks. For example, counties that are hit with drought are more likely to vote against the president's party.

The effect is small—just a few percentage points—but real. Achen and Bartels find that incumbents are more likely to be blamed when the disasters are viewed as social or political disasters.

Even those who do not seriously believe God is sending a message with the week's disasters, the back-to-back disasters were fodder for humor at the expense of politicians.

GOP Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann said at an event in Florida, "Washington, D.C. You'd think by now they'd get the message. An earthquake, a hurricane, are you listening? The American people have done everything they possibly can, now it's time for an act of God and we're getting it."

"Obviously she was saying it ...

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