The (Non-) Partisan Logic of Audience Costs
50 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 29 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
How do domestic political conditions shape audience costs? We explore how three factors - the partisanship of the president, the reaction of other elites, and whether the president reveals that new information affected his decision - shape the ways in which citizens punish leaders for backing down in a crisis. We develop a non-partisan theory of audience costs that explains why partisanship will only have a minor influence on how citizens impose audience costs, stemming from the president’s unique informational advantage in the early days of a crisis. In the immediate aftermath of an international incident - the period in which citizens impose audience costs - citizens will look to national interests, not partisan ones, when evaluating leaders. Using a series of original survey experiments, we find strong support for our theoretical argument. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the role of partisanship, framing, and the audience costs literature more broadly.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation