Terrorism and Public Opinion: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Ohio


By Christina Maida, Tiffany Rose Miller, and Aaron Pope

Abstract

Though Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks make up only a small subset of terrorist events in the United States, they loom large in the public consciousness and receive extensive media attention. We use a natural experiment to investigate the impact of terrorist violence on public preferences for U.S. military force and intervention abroad. We leverage data from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), a national and state representative survey, which was being conducted at the time of the Jihadi-inspired terrorist attack at Ohio State University. Our findings provide insight into the impact of the attack on public opinion in Ohio. The project makes contributions to the broader study of terrorism and public opinion as well as the influence of personal experiences on preferences.

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Authors

Aaron Pope recently earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from NYU Wagner with a specialization in public policy analysis. He is the Events and Programs Coordinator at the Vilcek Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness of immigrant contributions in America. Previously, he worked at the New York Public Library and as a research assistant at the New School, where he received a BA in literary studies. He is actively looking to move into policy research and is preparing to apply for PhD programs in Political Science.

Tiffany Rose Miller is a student at New York University, Editor-in-Chief of NYU Wagner Review, graduate teaching assistant at NYU Wagner, and a national security intern for the United States Government.

Christina Maida is an investment professional who earned her Master’s degree from NYU Wagner in 2021 and her Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 2014. She works as an analyst and trader at a New York City-based fund that invests in developed and emerging markets healthcare.