This pandemic is a test for leaders. Voters do the grading.

Andrew Reeves, associate professor of political science in Arts & Sciences


Crises are essentially leadership pop quizzes. When a crisis strikes, citizens become acutely sensitive to the performance of elected officials. While the coronavirus pandemic is somewhat unique, decades of research helps us to understand how leaders are judged when things go wrong.

Each day, citizens face new reports of death, new restrictions on their daily activity and fresh uncertainties about the future. Such reports also bear directly on our own lives in ways that disputes abroad, dips in the stock market or a candidate’s new policy proposals do not. When a crisis strikes, we stop and pay attention.

Early polling amid this coronavirus drama suggests that public concern and accountability, like so much of modern life, has been driven by partisanship. But as more citizens squarely face the consequences of this disaster, the sway of partisanship will likely wane.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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