Who Rallies? The Anatomy of a Rally Event

George C. Edwards, Tami Swenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


On June 26, 1993, President Clinton ordered a missile attack on Iraq's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. The president's approval level surged—a textbook example of a “rally.” But who rallied? Previous studies of rallies have relied on aggregate data, preventing analysts from determining who switched from nonapproval to approval of the president in response to a rally event. The CBS News/New York Times Poll interviewed a national sample of adults right before the attack and reinterviewed 622 of the same respondents immediately following. Employing this panel study, we find that those who rallied were those most disposed to support the president in the first place. Exposure to the news media also plays a role in reinforcing the impact of positive views of the president's handling of foreign policy. Thus, more than patriotic fervor is involved in rallies. Rather than being a distinctive phenomenon, a rally event seems to be simply an additional force that pushes potential supporters over the threshold of approval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-212
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997


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