Bridging Divides Initiative: Patterns of Increased Risk of Political Violence Ahead of the 2020 Elections
Research Question: The Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) sought to understand the trends and patterns of political violence in order to assist key stakeholders – government and civil society – to target prevention resources, especially ahead of the 2020 elections.
Data: We cleaned variables to understand political violence – some proxy variables, including: (1) FBI/ADL hate crime data, (2) Gun Violence Archive’s Mass Shootings with death, (3) Global Terrorism Database. During the period of the grant, we also cleaned and worked with data on (4) SPLCs hate organizations, (5) 2016 presidential political events, and (6) data on political prejudice.
The US Crisis Monitor, the data gathering partnership with ACLED, significantly improved data available on political mobilization and violence. The data is national, updated weekly, tagged both geographically and time stamped, and coded to provide vastly better analysis than was feasible before this project began.
Methods: We have used multiple techniques, especially regression analysis to identify key areas of higher risk of contentious and political violence.
Challenges: What we sought is data on political violence in the United States. The data for the US Crisis Monitor is predominantly based on information from 1,500 US news sources. Acts of targeted or political violence that are under reported in the media will be underrepresented in the data set. News reports may also not be specific about locations or time of events.
Findings: Many conclusions are available in reports and articles reported below. For example, the US Crisis Monitor data was able to show that, despite reporting, the vast majority (93%) of Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests were peaceful. There was also a significant increase in the percentage of unlawful paramilitary activity around BLM protests and in the period after the election leading up to January 6th.