The relationship between political events and aggregate opinion change is complicated, and the influence of actual events, as opposed to domestic political elites' responses to those events, has seldom been analyzed. This article attempts to untangle these relationships with data examining events and statements of the political leaders (belligerence) of both the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Considering the salience of the Soviet Union for domestic politics, there is reason to suspect that the public should have responded directly to Soviet actions and statements, while also reacting to U.S. belligerence. The analysis indicates that the public reacted only to changes in U.S., not Soviet, belligerence. The implications of this finding for public preferences on foreign and defense policy, and for opinion more generally, are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science