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Politics Now Jon Pevehouse Public Opinion And American Foreign Policy

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Politics Now Jon Pevehouse Public Opinion And American Foreign Policy

  1. 1. Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy<br />
  2. 2. Public Opinion and AFP<br />Survey of 18-24 y.o. Americans<br />11% of Americans cannot find the U.S. on the map<br />29% cannot find the Pacific Ocean<br />58% cannot find Japan<br />69% cannot find the UK<br />
  3. 3. A tough one…<br />
  4. 4. Easier than…<br />
  5. 5. Ok, maybe we’re just bad at geography…<br />1994: 46% of Americans believed the 2 largest expenditures in the federal budget were: foreign affairs and welfare<br />1993: 25% of Americans could ID any ethnic group fighting in Bosnia<br />1985: 28% of Americans thought the U.S. fought the USSR in World War II<br />
  6. 6. Does public opinion matter?<br />Traditional view: NO!<br />Almond-Lippmann thesis<br />Public opinion is:<br />Uninformed<br />Volatile<br />Lacking in coherence<br />Even if leaders followed public opinion, they would have no way of knowing what direction to go…<br />
  7. 7. Public Opinion: Somalia<br />
  8. 8. Public Opinion: Haiti<br />
  9. 9. Public Opinion: Bosnia<br />
  10. 10. Public Opinion: Kosovo<br />
  11. 11. Traditional View of Public Opinion<br />Most Americans are non-attentive…<br />…but it probably didn’t matter given the “Cold War Consensus”<br />Ex. 1961 Gallup Poll: “Would you fight an all-out nuclear war than live under Communist rule?”<br />Would rather fight in a nuclear war: 81%<br />
  12. 12. Does public opinion matter?<br />New/Revisionist view: YES!<br />Re-alignment after Vietnam: breakdown of the consensus<br />Public opinion is relatively coherent: the lack of factual knowledge does not mean lack of consistency…<br />When public opinion changes – it is in response to events, not random fluctuations…<br />
  13. 13. Iraq<br />
  14. 14. Afghanistan<br />
  15. 15. The “Pretty Prudent Public”<br />US public’s attitudes seem all over the place on intervention<br />Jentleson: Not hawks or doves, just prudent.<br />Polls from post-Vietnam conflicts:<br />Americans support use of force when goal is foreign policy restraint of another state<br />Americans less support for force aimed at internal regime change of another state<br />
  16. 16. Still a “Pretty Prudent Public”?<br />Iraq: 54% support invasion 1 week prior (60% if UN SC support is given)<br />Afghanistan: 88% supported invasion (2001)<br />Today: Majority favors continuing war, but that number drops to about 20-25% if object of war is to “secure democracy”<br />Afghanistan: different support dynamics based on this high starting point:<br />
  17. 17. Afghanistan<br />
  18. 18. How might public opinion matter?<br />Direct influence on Congress/President<br />Magnitudes need to be strong!<br />Indirect influence<br />Anticipated reaction<br />“boundary setting”<br />But what if it works the other way around?<br />What if elites lead the public, especially if they are relatively disinterested in foreign affairs?<br />
  19. 19. Indexing Theory<br />Idea that media “indexes” their coverage by what elites are saying (Bennett; Entman)<br />If there are elite debates (i.e., Congress vs. President), then it gets covered.<br />Non-elite debate gets much less coverage…<br />Implications:<br />Can public opinion make a difference?<br />Can Congress make a difference?<br />
  20. 20. Study of Local Media<br />Our study: 50 largest media markets; all local news broadcasts from two weeks before until two weeks after Congressional debate over force authorization measure<br />Data: 10,000 news broadcasts; 5500 hours of programs<br />Findings: Media follows Congress; Public opinion follows media; President’s pay attention to the public (similar to Zaller)<br />
  21. 21. Congressional Speeches<br />
  22. 22. NY Times Coverage<br />
  23. 23. Local News<br />
  24. 24. Support for Iraq War<br />
  25. 25. Why does it matter?<br />International Relations Theory<br />Theories of audience costs rely on voter judgment<br />Median voter/electoral models often assume knowledge of policy and votes<br />Idea of diversionary behavior assumes fickle public opinion<br />Studies of American Foreign Policy often assume one way causation<br />
  26. 26. Why does it matter?<br />Public Policy: Afghanistan/Globalization<br />Afghanistan: Will public continue to support the war there?<br />
  27. 27. Globalization<br />Are there more economic “adjustments” in the future?<br />Will the U.S. need to belt tighten to address imbalances?<br />
  28. 28. Do Americans Like Trade/Globalization?<br />
  29. 29. Conclusion<br />We still do not have a good answer as to whether publics lead elites or vice-versa.<br />Depends on issue and salience<br />Future military challenges in Afghanistan will likely have some public support in the long run.<br />Future economic challenges that require costly US adjustments could be more problematic <br />

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