We are grateful for the wise council offered to us by Matt Baum, Erik Gartzke, David Lake, Jeff Lewis, Mike Thies, Barbara Walter, and seminar participants at UCSD, University of Texas at Austin, and APSA 2007.
The Political Costs of Crisis Bargaining: Presidential Rhetoric and the Role of Party
Version of Record online: 7 JUN 2011
©2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 3, pages 526–545, July 2011
How to Cite
Trager, R. F. and Vavreck, L. (2011), The Political Costs of Crisis Bargaining: Presidential Rhetoric and the Role of Party. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 526–545. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00521.x
- Issue online: 5 JUL 2011
- Version of Record online: 7 JUN 2011
We analyze the first large-scale, randomized experiment to measure presidential approval levels at all outcomes of a canonical international crisis-bargaining model, thereby avoiding problems of strategic selection in evaluating presidential incentives. We find support for several assumptions made in the crisis-bargaining literature, including that a concession from a foreign state leads to higher approval levels than other outcomes, that the magnitudes of audience costs are under presidential control prior to the initiation of hostilities, and that these costs can be made so large that presidents have incentive to fight wars they will not win. Thus, the credibility of democratic threats can be made extremely high. We also find, however, that partisan cues strongly condition presidential incentives. Party elites have incentives to behave according to type in Congress and contrary to type in the Oval Office, and Democratic presidents sometimes have incentives to fight wars they will not win.