War Through Partisan Glasses: How Partisanship Conditions the Influence of the Draft and Inequality on Support for War
44 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 1 Sep 2011
Date Written: 2011
This paper investigates the influence of military manpower policies on public support for war. While recent scholarship suggests that conscription decreases support for military action, we argue that its effect is contingent both on whether the draft will reduce socioeconomic inequality in military sacrifice and on the partisanship of the respondent. As in domestic policy, Americans process much information about foreign policy through distinctly partisan lenses. Our experimental data shows that reinstating the draft significantly decreases support for war among Democrats; however, this negative effect is significantly mitigated when Democrats are told that the draft will reduce socioeconomic inequality in who bears the human costs of war. Support for war among Republicans, by contrast, responded neither to information about conscription nor its inequality ramifications. Finally, we also consider the potential mediating role of respondents’ core values and personal policy preferences. While we find some evidence for the mediating role of core values, this relationship itself is contingent on partisanship. Only among Democrats do we find evidence of subjects with higher scores on a universalism-benevolence value scale being more responsive to cues about conscription and its inequality ramifications.
Keywords: war, draft, public opinion, partisanship, inequality
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