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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 

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