Thursday, June 30, 2005

Remembrance of things past

Mystery Pollster has more on the political scientists Bush & Co. are drawing on to frame Iraq policy for the public, including links to papers they've written.

The authors' quote he posts, however, is almost tautological:
We argue that the willingness of the public to pay the costs of war and to reelect incumbent Presidents during wartime are dependent on the interaction of two attitudes - one retrospective and one prospective. In particular, we show that retrospective evaluations of whether President Bush "did the right thing" in attacking Iraq and prospective judgments about whether the U.S. will ultimately be successful in Iraq are two critical attitudes for understanding how foreign policy judgments affect vote choice and one's tolerance for casualties. Further, we show that the retrospective judgments serve as a more powerful predictor for vote choice, while the prospective evaluations of mission success better predict continued support for the war in Iraq. These claims are consistent with the broader literature on how foreign policy influences voting behavior, and the literature that examines the public's response to war and casualties. However, we also show that these retrospective and prospective judgments are interactive, and that a person's attitude on one conditions the effect of the other. This interaction operates on "political" support (vote choice) as well as mission" support (casualty tolerance).

In other words, support for Bush/Iraq depends on two things - how you view the past and the future of the Iraq conflict. Your view of the past is more likely to influence your vote. Your view of the future is more likely to influence your ongoing level of support. These views interact. Perhaps there are some eye-popping results in the data, but this doesn't appear to be very insightful.