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Iraq War Casualties and the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election

by David Karol and Edward Miguel. Reading for week of October 31, 2006.

Many contend that President Bush's re-election and increased vote share prove that the Iraq war was either irrelevant or even an asset to him.  We present evidence to the contrary.  Focusing on the change in Bush's 2004 showing com-pared to 2000, we discover that Iraq War casualties from a state significantly depressed the President's vote share there.  We infer that were it not for the approximately 10,000 U.S. dead and wounded in Iraq by Election Day, Bush would have won nearly 2% more of the popular vote, carrying several additional states and winning decisively.  Such a result would have been close to the pre-election forecasts of scholars whose models did not consider war impacts.  In contrast, National Guard/Reservist call-ups had no significant additional effect beyond the main casualty effect.  We discuss the implications of our findings for both the election modeling enterprise and the debate over the "casualty sensitivity" of the American public.

 

Download File: karol.miguel.pdf

Center for Comparative and Global Research