The polls - Review: Public opinion research and support for the Iraq war

Adam J. Berinsky, James N Druckman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Professors Peter Feaver, Christopher Gelpi, and Jason Reifler's theory of the determinants of public support for war has received a great deal of attention among academics, journalists, and policymakers. They argue that support for war hinges on initial support for military action and the belief in the success of the war. In this review, we take a critical and constructive view of their work, focusing on methodological concerns. We discuss the dependent variable used by the authors - individual casualty tolerance - and argue that it is an insufficient measure of war support. We also make the case that their independent variables of interest - initial support for war and evaluation of war success - may, in fact, be best understood as indicators of latent support for the war more generally. Finally, we discuss the need for more research into the determinants of support for war, focusing on core values and elite rhetoric as potential variables for continued and future study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-141
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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