Who rallies around the flag? Evidence from panel data during the Covid-19 pandemic

Sven Hegewald, Dominik Schraff

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Recent studies on political trust during the Covid-19 pandemic diagnosed a rally-around-the-flag effect leading to exceptionally high levels of trust in politics. While this finding has been established over various country contexts, our understanding of the precise dynamics behind the rally effect remains limited. In this paper, we argue that socio-demographic characteristics, in particular age differences, as well as pre-existing trust levels moderate the extent of the rally effect. Using individual-level panel data from the Netherlands, covering the time before and during the first Covid-19 wave, we show that the rally effect is particularly pronounced among older individuals, while it is absent among the young. Furthermore, we find a catch-up effect among the more distrusting parts of the population, such as populist supporters and low-income earners, who seem to largely drive the rally effect during the initial stage of the pandemic. This shows that the extent of the rally effect is conditional on socio-demographic characteristics, pointing towards the role of group risks and pre-crisis trust differentials in shaping people’s response to an existential threat.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2022


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