The Democratic Peace Revisited in the Context of Transnational Threats
37 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 3 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Public perceptions of ongoing security threats and the impact that these perceptions have on the level of support for related policies are mediated by the perceived quality and integrity of information the public receives from the government. Information constraints regarding terrorism and war increase the importance of signals from the government relative to other sources to individuals when assessing these threats and evaluating counter-threat policies. Individuals are, however, critical consumers of information. Rather than uniformly accepting elite signals or partisan cues, members of the public interpret and respond to government signals about ongoing threat differently depending on their perceptions of the objectivity and trustworthiness of the information it provides. We test this argument by analyzing the relationship between political party, ideology, and changes in the level of public trust in the information provided by the government about the war in Iraq on public perceptions of threat and the level of policy support for U.S. policy in Iraq. An analysis of a panel survey of U.S. respondents form 2007 through 2009 demonstrates that the changes in the level of trust in information has a significant impact on perceptions of threat and level of policy support. These effects are independent of political party and political ideology, which have no significant impact on changes in the level of trust, perceptions of threat, or level of policy support.
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