Washington, October 15, 2012 — As the 2012 presidential election approaches, experts Dr. James Golby, Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy; Kyle Dropp, Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Stanford University; and Dr. Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, examine whether military endorsements impact a campaign's ability to secure votes. In their new study, Military Campaigns: Veterans' Endorsements and Presidential Elections, released today by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the authors conclude that military endorsements are significant, but only in a close race. Moreover, they conclude that military endorsements may have unintended consequences on the public's perception of the military as a nonpartisan entity.
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Veterans' Endorsements and Presidential Elections.
The authors conducted a random survey -- the first of its kind to seriously examine the impact of military endorsements -- of 2,517 registered voters during the 2012 presidential campaign. Respondents were asked a range of questions to gauge whether military endorsements have any visible effect on voter opinions. The authors found that:
Ultimately, the authors conclude that "military endorsements are just attractive enough for campaigns to use them, yet not so attractive that it is impossible to think they would ever stop." They argue in support of those like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey who would seek to eliminate military endorsements in presidential campaigns, and suggest steps that campaigns can take to help establish a taboo against these endorsements.
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.