Peter Gries, Andrew Fox, Yiming Jing, Matthias Mader, Thomas J. Scotto, Jason Reifler
A new measure of the ‘democratic peace’: what country feeling thermometer data can teach us about the drivers of American and Western European foreign policy

Political Research Exchange, 2020: 2, pp. 1-13
ISSN: 2474-736X (online)

While the existence of a ‘Democratic Peace’ (DP) is widely accepted, the various DP theories that seek to explain why democracies rarely fight one another are highly contested. A ‘commercial/capitalist peace’ counterargument maintains that the relationship between democratic politics and peace is spurious: the actual driver is greater trade among democracies. Meanwhile, Realists counter that it is alliances among democratic states, not their democratic nature, that causes peace among them. This research note utilizes novel country feeling thermometer data to explore the debate’s micro-foundations: the underlying drivers of international amity and enmity among democratic citizens in the US, UK, France, and Germany. Utilizing Freedom House and other quantitative measures of freedom, trade, military strength, and racial and cultural difference, it pits the micro-foundations of the DP against its rivals to explain attitude formation among a group of Western democratic publics. Given the resurgence of authoritarianism around the world today, a better understanding of the role of regime type in shaping public opinion – and subsequently war and peace – is urgently needed.