Democratic Peace, Domestic Audience Costs, and Political Communication


Philip K. Potter and Matthew A. Baum. 2010. “Democratic Peace, Domestic Audience Costs, and Political Communication.” Political Communication . Publisher's Version


This article addresses a gap in the literature connecting the empirical observation of a democratic peace to a theoretical mechanism based on domestic audience costs. We argue that the link between these literatures lies in the way leaders reach he ultimate source of audience costs – the public. The audience cost argument implicitly requires a free press because, without it, the public has no way of reliably assessing the success or failure of a leader’s foreign policy. Hence leaders can credibly commit through audience costs only when the media is an effective and independent actor. The implication is that while leaders might gain at home by controlling the media, they do so at the cost of their capacity to persuade foreign leaders that their “hands are tied.”

Last updated on 04/05/2018