University of California, Riverside


Jennifer Merolla Jennifer Merolla Professor of Political Science

Topics: Terrorism Impacts on Female Candidates
Terrorism and Public Opinion

Preferred Media: Print, Radio, Video

Contact Card

Tel: (951) 827-4612

Media Contact: Tess Eyrich
Tel: (951) 827-1287


Jennifer Merolla’s research focuses on how the political environment shapes individual attitudes and behavior across many domains such as candidate evaluations during elections, immigration policy attitudes, foreign policy attitudes, and support for democratic values and institutions. She is co-author of “Democracy at Risk: How Terrorist Threats Affect the Public” (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

On Terrorism Impacts on Female Candidates

Men are viewed as stronger leaders than women, and the Democratic Party is viewed as less capable than the Republican Party when it comes to leadership, national security and foreign policy. When terrorism is in the headlines, these voter perceptions hurt women candidates in the Democratic Party but not the male candidates, whose gender counteracts the party’s weak reputation on national security. Terrorism headlines also do not hurt women in the GOP, whose reputation of being tough on terrorism appears to inoculate its female office-seekers from the weak-on-national-security stereotype ascribed to Democratic women.

July 2016 interview on Charter Local Edition:

On Terrorism and Public Opinion

The attacks on September 11, 2001 jarringly awoke the average American to the grim reality that even a major power like the U.S. is susceptible to international terrorism. One consequence is that the specter of terrorist threat is now thoroughly spread across both liberal and illiberal democracies. It is therefore critical that we better understand how conditions of terrorist threat affect individuals’ political evaluations, attitudes, and behaviors.