Published: April 30, 2019 By

John GriffinAnswer, not so much, according to a trio of researchers including CU Boulder political scientist

During a campaign stop in Iowa in 2016, now-President Donald Trump famously told his supporters: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose voters." 

Though the 2016 presidential election is behind us, Trump’s claim illustrates a major question that persists in modern-day politics: whether or not voters are willing to hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions. 

New research from a trio of researchers, including one from the University of Colorado Boulder, sheds some light on this pertinent issue. The paper, titled “A God of Vengeance and of Reward? Voters and Accountability,” was published in Legislative Studies Quarterly in November 2018 and found that voters are more likely to reward their representatives than punish them for their actions.

“The question of whether voters hold elected officials accountable is right at the heart of our democracy,” said John Griffin, a CU Boulder associate professor of political science. “There had been a number of studies that provided some evidence on that question, but I wanted to examine it in a way that I thought would be more convincing.”

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