Research suggests that the costs of international conflict (e.g. casualties) alter public opinion, executive approval and policy positions of elected officials. However, do casualties affect voting in terms of aggregate outcomes and individual vote choices? This article examines how casualties from interstate conflicts affect voter behaviour, specifically incumbent vote share. Using the investment model of commitment to model individual vote choice, it is argued that increases in the costs of conflict (i.e., more casualties) can increase the probability that voters will support the incumbent, increasing incumbent vote share. This model is tested with both cross-national aggregate data from twenty-three countries and individual-level British survey data. The results support the argument.
(Online publication May 12 2011)
* Department of Political Science,Texas A&M University (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). The author wishes to thank Sarah Croco, Scott Gartner, Nehemia Geva, David Peterson, Jason Smith, Jack Snyder, Clayton Thyne and Laron Williams for their extremely helpful comments and numerous suggestions, and also Sam Snideman for his research assistance. A previous version of this article was presented at the Domestic Politics and International Conflict Conference at Texas A&M University 2009. Replication data available: http://www-polisci.tamu.edu/faculty/koch/