Elite Military Cues and Public Opinion About the Use of Military Force
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Do military endorsements influence Americans’ political and foreign policy views? We find that senior military officers have the ability to nudge public attitudes under certain conditions. Through a series of large, survey-based experiments, with nearly 12,000 completed interviews from national samples, we find that participants respond to survey questions in predictable ways depending on whether they have been prompted with information about the views of senior military leaders on the very same questions. When told that senior military leaders oppose particular interventions abroad, public opposition to that intervention increases; endorsements of support boost public support but by a smaller magnitude. Subsequent causal mediation analysis suggests that military opinion influences public opinion primarily through its impact on a mission’s perceived legitimacy and, to a lesser degree, it’s perceived likelihood of success.
Golby, J; Feaver, P; Dropp, K
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