October 15, 2012

Experts Assess Impact of Veterans' Endorsements on Political Campaigns in Study Published by CNAS

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. 

Download Military Campaigns:
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:

  • Military
    endorsements may benefit Democratic candidates more than Republicans by
    dispelling historical notions that Democrats are not strong on defense
  • The
    extent to which military endorsements damage a candidate's
    campaign is modest enough that such warnings can be ignored.
  • However,
    endorsements may produce troubling effects regarding public views of
    the military. The survey provided some evidence that endorsements and
    politicization may undermine confidence in the military as an institution
    over the long term.

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.


Kay King

Director of External

and Senior Advisor

Email: kking@cnas.org

Ph: (202) 457-9408

Sara Conneighton

Director of External Relations

Email: sconneighton@cnas.org

(202) 457-9429