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The rally 'round the flag effect in U.S. foreign policy crises, 1950–1985

Abstract

We calculate the rally 'round the flag effect (Mueller, 1970, 1973) for all 41 U.S. foreign policy crises, 1950–1985, identified by the International Crisis Behavior Project (Wilkenfeld, Brecher, and Moser, 1988). The mean change in the president's approval rating is surprisingly small: 1.4 percent among all respondents. The greatest influences on the rallying effect of a crisis are whether or not the United States is involved in an ongoing war and, especially, theNew York Times's coverage of the president's major response to a crisis. When a major response is reported in the headlines, the rally is more than 8 percentage points greater,ceteris paribus, than when it is not reported on the front page. TheNew York Times's reporting is influenced by the nature of the president's response, the efforts of his administration to publicize his actions, the degree of Soviet involvement, the location of the crisis, and the willingness of opposition leaders to take a newsworthy position regarding the president's performance.

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Oneal, J.R., Bryan, A.L. The rally 'round the flag effect in U.S. foreign policy crises, 1950–1985. Polit Behav 17, 379–401 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01498516

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Keywords

  • Great Influence
  • Foreign Policy
  • York Time
  • Major Response
  • Front Page