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Title: The Values and Vices of a Veteran Voice
Authors: Kliewer, Nicole Danielle
Advisors: Achen, Christopher H
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Campaigns
Candidate Evaluations
Civil-Military Relations
Subjects: Political science
Military studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: From "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!" to Jason Kander's 2016 campaign advertisement assembling an AR-15 rifle blindfolded, military service is central to American electoral politics. However, despite modern party recruitment efforts and the immense number of military candidates that run for congressional office, evidence of an electoral advantage is mixed. This dissertation tackles the question of military candidates' presence in electoral politics despite this mixed success and recharacterizes the benefits and consequences of service in campaigns. In the process, this work demonstrates how valued occupations can be employed to construct candidate and party image. Through a mixed-method approach that includes campaign observations, a content analysis of campaign materials, an original survey experiment, and observational analyses, this project provides several key findings. First, this work demonstrates that military candidates rely on their service in campaigning at a rate that far surpasses other occupational backgrounds. Moreover, noncompetitive military candidates are employing service in politicized contexts. These findings matter because they link the military and political parties in noncompetitive settings. Second, service disclosures lead to changes in candidate trait, policy, and representation ratings, which are unmatched among comparable occupations. These effects are most substantial in elections where military candidates are unlikely to win. As a third finding, this project shows that ratings of military candidates spill over to associated parties. These results are the strongest for out-party evaluations. As a result, party operatives are incentivized to continue recruiting candidates to construct party reputations in uncompetitive districts. However, this behavior presents a danger to civil-military relations. As political actors connect the military and partisan politics, they break down trust in the military and increase associations between the military and political parties for partisan benefit. Ultimately, military candidates do not need to win their races to make a valid contribution to politics. This work asserts that there is value to non-viable military candidacies, mainly for political parties. However, these candidacies come at the potential expense of the long-term health of the military.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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