Partisan Structure of War Support: Events, Elites, and the Public

in In Time of War

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226043586
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226043463 | DOI:
Partisan Structure of War Support: Events, Elites, and the Public

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America's involvement in Kosovo in the spring of 1999 drew support from Democrats but not from Republicans. Admittedly, the two conflicts were different in several ways. But given circumstances that are similar in a number of other respects, party leaders took very different positions on the wisdom of military intervention in Kosovo and Iraq, reversing positions—and even rhetoric—between the two conflicts. This chapter shows that public opinion on war is shaped by patterns of conflict among partisan political actors. Using evidence from World War II, the Vietnam War, and Iraq War, it argues that the nature of the debate among political elites concerning the salience and meaning of wartime events determines if the public will rally to war. When elites come to a common interpretation of political reality, the public gives them great latitude to wage war. But when prominent political actors take divergent stands on the wisdom of intervention, the public divides as well.

Keywords: Kosovo; political elites; public opinion; Democrats; Republicans; military intervention; World War II; Vietnam War; Iraq War; wartime events

Chapter.  11043 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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