Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-tn8tq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-14T13:08:44.011Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Terrorism and Voting: The Effect of Rocket Threat on Voting in Israeli Elections

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2014

Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya
American University
Anna Getmansky is Lecturer, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel. While working on this paper, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Relations in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University (
Thomas Zeitzoff is Assistant Professor, Department of Justice, Law and Criminology, School of Public Affairs, American University (


How does the threat of becoming a victim of terrorism affect voting behavior? Localities in southern Israel have been exposed to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since 2001. Relying on variation across time and space in the range of rockets, we identify the effect of this threat on voting in Israeli elections. We first show that the evolution of the rockets’ range leads to exogenous variation in the threat of terrorism. We then compare voting in national elections within and outside the rockets’ range. Our results suggest that the right-wing vote share is 2 to 6 percentage points higher in localities that are within the range—a substantively significant effect. Unlike previous studies that explore the role of actual exposure to terrorism on political preferences and behavior, we show that the mere threat of an attack affects voting.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Abrahms, Max. 2006. “Why Terrorism does not Work.” International Security 31 (2): 4278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Abrahms, Max. 2012. “The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited.” Comparative Political Studies 45 (3): 366–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Abramson, Paul R., Aldrich, John H., Rickershauser, Jill, and Rohde, David W.. 2007. “Fear in the Voting Booth: The 2004 Presidential Election.” Political Behavior 29 (2): 197220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Angrist, Joshua D., and Pischke, Jörn-Steffen. 2008. Mostly Harmless Econometrics. 1st ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Arian, Asher, and Shamir, Michal. 2008. “A Decade Later, the World Had Changed, the Cleavage Structure Remained Israel.” Party Politics 14 (6): 685705.Google Scholar
Baker, William D., and Oneal, John R.. 2001. “Patriotism or Opinion Leadership? The Nature and Origins of the Rally-‘Round-the-Flag’ Effect.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45 (5): 661–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bali, Valentina A. 2007. “Terror and Elections: Lessons from Spain.” Electoral Studies 26 (3): 669–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Becker, Gary S., and Rubinstein, Yona. 2011. “Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis.” Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics, Discussion Paper 1079.Google Scholar
Bellows, John, and Miguel, Edward. 2009. “War and Local Collective Action in Sierra Leone.” Journal of Public Economics 93 (11): 1144–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benmelech, Efraim, Berrebi, Claude, and Klor, Esteban F.. 2010 a. “Counter-Suicide Terrorism: Evidence from House Demolitions.” National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 16493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benmelech, Efraim, Berrebi, Claude, and Klor, Esteban F.. 2010 b. “The Economic Cost of Harboring Terrorism.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 54 (2): 331–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berger, Rony, and Gelkopf, Marc. 2007. The Impact of the Ongoing Traumatic Stress Conditions on Sderot. Israel Trauma Centre for Victims of Terror and War (NATAL).Google Scholar
Berger, Rony, Gelkopf, Marc, and Heineberg, Yotam. 2012. “A Teacher-Delivered Intervention for Adolescents Exposed to Ongoing and Intense Traumatic War-Related Stress: A quasi-Randomized Controlled Study.” The Journal of Adolescent Health 51 (5): 453–61.Google Scholar
Berrebi, Claude, and Klor, Esteban F.. 2008. “Are Voters Sensitive to Terrorism? Direct Evidence from the Israeli Electorate.” American Political Science Review 102 (3): 279301.Google Scholar
Bonanno, George A., and Jost, John T.. 2006. “Conservative Shift among High-Exposure Survivors of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 28 (4): 311–23.Google Scholar
Brambor, Thomas, Clark, William, and Golder, Matt. 2006. “Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses.” Political Analysis 14 (1): 6382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bronner, Ethan. 2012. “With Longer Reach, Rockets Bolster Hamas Arsenal.” The New York Times.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan. 2007. “Politics and the Suboptimal Provision of Counterterror.” International Organization 61 (1): 936.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan, and Dickson, Eric S.. 2007. “The Propaganda of the Deed: Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Mobilization.” American Journal of Political Science 51 (2): 364–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Canetti-Nisim, Daphna, Halperin, Eran, Sharvit, Keren, and Hobfoll, Stevan E.. 2009. “A New Stress-Based Model of Political Extremism Personal Exposure to Terrorism, Psychological Distress, and Exclusionist Political Attitudes.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (3): 363–89.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Diamond, Gary M., Lipsitz, Joshua D., Fajerman, Zvi, and Rozenblat, Omit. 2010. “Ongoing Traumatic Stress Response (OTSR) in Sderot, Israel.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 41 (1): 1925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fiorina, Morris P. 1978. “Economic Retrospective Voting in American National Elections: A Micro-Analysis.” American Journal of Political Science 22: 426–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fischhoff, Baruch. 2011. “Risk Perception and Communication.” In Risk: A Very Short Introduction, eds. Fischhoff, Baruch and Kadvany, John. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 940–54.Google Scholar
Fisher, Ian. 2006. “How Clumsy, Inaccurate Gaza Rockets Could Start a War.” The New York Times.Google Scholar
Gassebner, Martin, Jong-A-Pin, Richard, and Mierau, Jochen O.. 2008. “Terrorism and Electoral Accountability: One Strike, You’re Out!Economics Letters 100 (1): 126–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gelpi, Christopher, Feaver, Peter D., and Reifler, Jason. 2006. “Success Matters: Casualty Sensitivity and the War in Iraq.” International Security 30 (3): 746.Google Scholar
Getmansky, Anna. 2011. “Whose Life Is Worth More? Domestic Politics, Counterterrorism, and Terrorists’ Selection of Targets.” Working Paper, New York University.Google Scholar
Globes. 2011. “Iron Dome Costs Billions, a Dead Person Costs 1.2 millions [Kipat Barzel Olah Miliardim; Adam Met Oleh 1.2 Milion].” Globes. Google Scholar
Gould, Eric D., and Klor, Esteban F.. 2010. “Does Terrorism Work?The Quarterly Journal of Economics 125 (4): 1459–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hadar, Kaneh. 2013. “Reshut haMisim Tishalem Keh Hetzi Milion Shekel Leh Kibutz Yad Mordechai [The Tax Authority To Pay Over Half Million Shekels to the Yad Mordechai Kibbutz].” Calcalist, July 15.,7340,L-3607609,00.html Google Scholar
Haushofer, Johannes, Biletzki, Anat, and Kanwisher, Nancy. 2010. “Both Sides Retaliate in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (42): 17927–32.Google Scholar
Henrich, Christopher, and Golan, Shahar. 2013. “Effects of Exposure to Rocket Attacks on Adolescent Distress and Violence: A 4-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 5 (6): 619–27.Google Scholar
Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, and Cassese, Erin. 2007. On the Distinct Political Effects of Anxiety and Anger. In The Political Dynamics of Feeling and Thinking, eds. Crigler, Ann, MacKuen, Michael, Marcus, George E. and Neuman, W. Russell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 202–30.Google Scholar
Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, Taber, Charles, and Lahav, Gallya. 2005. “Threat, Anxiety, and Support of Antiterrorism Policies.” American Journal of Political Science 49 (3): 593608.Google Scholar
IICC. 2009. Summary of Rocket Fire and Mortar Shelling in 2008. Gelilot, Israel: Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center. Available at Google Scholar
Jaeger, David A., Klor, Esteban F., Miaari, Sami H., and Paserman, M. Daniele. 2012. “The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada.” Journal of Public Economics 96 (3): 54368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaeger, David A., and Paserman, Daniele M.. 2008. “The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.” The American Economic Review 98 (4): 1591–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Karol, David, and Miguel, Edward. 2007. “The Electoral Cost of War: Iraq Casualties and the 2004 US Presidential Election.” Journal of Politics 69 (3): 633–48.Google Scholar
Kibris, Arzu. 2011. “Funerals and Elections: The Effects of Terrorism on Voting Behavior in Turkey.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 55 (2): 220–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kiewiet, D. Roderick, and Rivers, Douglas. 1984. “A Retrospective on Retrospective Voting.” Political Behavior 6 (4): 369–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
King, Gary, and Zeng, Langche. 2006. “The Dangers of Extreme Counterfactuals.” Political Analysis 14 (2): 131–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koch, Michael, and Tkach, Benjamin. 2012. “Deterring or Mobilizing? The Influence of Government Partisanship and Force on the Frequency, Lethality and Suicide Attacks of Terror Events.” Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kydd, Andrew, and Walter, Barbara F.. 2002. “Sabotaging the Peace: The Politics of Extremist Violence.” International Organization 56 (2): 263–96.Google Scholar
Lago, Ignacio, and Montero, José Ramón. 2006. “The 2004 Election in Spain: Terrorism, Accountability, and Voting.” Taiwan Journal of Democracy 2 (1): 1335.Google Scholar
Lake, David. 2002. “Rational Extremism: Understanding Terrorism in the Twenty-first Century.” Dialogue IO 1 (1): 1529.Google Scholar
Lyall, Jason. 2009. “Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Evidence from Chechnya.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (3): 331–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montalvo, Jose G. 2011. “Voting After the Bombings: A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Terrorist Attacks on Democratic Elections.” Review of Economics and Statistics 93 (4): 1146–54.Google Scholar
Oates, Sarah, Kaid, Lynda Lee, and Berry, Mike. 2009. Terrorism, Elections, and Democracy: Political Campaigns in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
OCHA. 2007. West Bank and Gaza Strip Closure Maps. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Available at Scholar
Pape, Robert A. 2003. “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.” American Political Science Review 97 (3): 343–61.Google Scholar
Petrocik, John R. 1996. “Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case Study.” American Journal of Political Science 40 (3): 825–50.Google Scholar
Powell, Robert. 2007. “Defending against Terrorist Attacks with Limited Resources.” American Political Science Review 101: 527–41.Google Scholar
Rubin, Uzi. 2011. “The Missile Threat from Gaza: From Nuisance to Strategic Threat.” The Begin - Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar Ilan University, Mideast Security and Policy Studies No. 91 December. Available at Scholar
Schofield, Norman, and Sened, Itai. 2005. “Multiparty Competition in Israel, 1988–96.” British Journal of Political Science 35 (4): 635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skitka, Linda J. 2005. “Patriotism or Nationalism? Understanding Post-September 11, 2001, Flag-Display Behavior.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 35 (10): 19952011.Google Scholar
Willer, Robb. 2004. “The Effects of Government-Issued Terror Warnings on Presidential Approval Ratings.” Current Research in Social Psychology 10 (1): 112.Google Scholar
Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. 2010. Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data: Second Edition. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Wright, John R. 2012. “Unemployment and the Democratic Electoral Advantage.” American Political Science Review 106 (4).Google Scholar
Zeitzoff, Thomas. 2013. “The Effect of Emotions And Exposure to Violence on Intragroup Conflict: A Laboratory in the Field Experiment in Southern Israel.” Political Psychology Forthcoming.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: PDF

Getmansky and Zeitzoff Supplementary Material


Download Getmansky and Zeitzoff Supplementary Material(PDF)
Submit a response


No Comments have been published for this article.