Public Opinion Towards Military Alliances

Joshua Alley | Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia

Monday, April 5, 2021 12:15 PM


Why does the public support or oppose military alliances? Although public backing for promises to defend other countries shapes the credibility of alliance commitments by democracies, we know little about the foundations of public opinion towards alliances. In particular, existing survey evidence cannot determine whether alliance attitudes are the top-down result of elite cues, or a bottom-up result of individual concerns and perceptions of alliance obligations and partners. In this article, I identify three potential determinants of public opinion towards alliances: elite cues, individual considerations, and alliance characteristics. I then use two conjoint survey experiments to assess the relative importance of these factors for public attitudes towards forming and maintaining international alliances.
Co-Sponsored by: Democratic Statecraft Lab