All politics are local local: Losses and individual attitudes toward the Vietnam war

Scott Sigmund Gartner, Gary M. Segura, Michael Wilkening

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Inquiries into the domestic determinants of international behavior, including democratic peace arguments, build on the pioneering work of Mueller by presupposing that individuals in a democracy are extremely sensitive to casualties. The authors hypothesize that this relationship is, in part, dependent on the rate at which casualties accumulate and the local variation in these costs. Employing, for the first time, spatially disaggregated "killed in action" data, the authors offer a multivariate logit model of individual opinion on the administration's policies in Vietnam as a function of both local- and national-level casualties. The authors find that recent county-level losses and partisanship are important predictors of individual opinion on the president's policies early in the war as marginal casualties increased but are less helpful in understanding opinion in the war's later years when marginal casualties declined. Conversely, a number of individual-level variables that had minimal explanatory power at the beginning of the conflict become more important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-694
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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