Every four years, Americans choose a new commander-in-chief. US presidents have significant authority to use force, manage a global network of alliances and partnerships, as well as direct American grand strategy. How do voters decide who they want to be commander-in-chief? How are recent and ongoing foreign policy issues—like the Afghanistan withdrawal and US aid to partners in Israel and Ukraine—influencing the 2024 presidential election?

Those questions are the focus of Episode 7, Season 2 of the Social Science of War podcast. Dr. Alexandra Chinchilla is joined by three guests to examine American public opinion on foreign policy and the 2024 presidential election.

Dr. Jeffrey Friedman is an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College and an expert on the politics and psychology of foreign policy decision-making. He is the author of a recent book by Cornell University Press—The Commander in Chief Test—which forms the academic foundation for this episode.

Dr. Kori Schake is a senior fellow and the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. She has had a distinguished career in government, working at the US State Department, the US Department of Defense, and the National Security Council at the White House. Kori was also the senior policy adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. Alongside numerous other publications, she is also the coeditor, along with former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, of the book Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.

Dr. Andrew Payne is a lecturer in foreign policy and security at City, University of London, and a research associate at the University of Oxford. His research examines the influence of domestic politics on US foreign policy, military strategy, and civil-military relations. He is also the author of the recent book by Columbia University Press, War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War.

The Social Science of War podcast is produced by the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. Visit our website if you would like to be a student or teach in the department, or if you would like to connect with any of our instructors based on their expertise.

Kyle Atwell created the Social Science of War. Hosts on Season 2 of the podcast are Dr. Nakissa JahanbaniDr. Alexandra ChinchillaLieutenant Colonel Sean McKnight, and Major Gabriel Royal. Please reach out to the podcast team with any questions about this episode or the Social Science of War podcast in general.

The views expressed in this episode are those of the participants and do not reflect those the United States Military Academy, the US Army, or any agency of the US government.

Image credit: Staff Sgt. Rashad Usry, US Army