Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vietnam Draft Lottery Influenced Political Views

The June 11-12 Wall Street Journal in the “Week in Ideas” by Christopher Shea reported in “Voting and the Vietnam Draft” on a paper that appeared in the May issue of the American Political Science Review.

The paper was titled “Caught in the Draft: The Effects of Vietnam Draft Lottery Status on Political Attitudes” and its authors were Robert S. Erikson and Laura Stoker.

Shea reported:
Among college-educated men who were subject to the Vietnam War draft lottery in 1969, the number they drew shaped their politics for decades to come, a study finds. The effect was independent of actual military service.

In 1969, the men received lottery numbers ranging from 1 (with the greatest chance of being drafted) to 366, based on their birthdays. The men were interviewed in 1973 about their attitudes toward the war…

In the 1973 election, the likelihood that someone holding the No. 1 lottery spot would vote for President Nixon was 37%, compared with 75% for those who held the number 366. In fact, draft numbers predicted their votes better than late-childhood party preference.
This brief description of the paper resonated with me because, on December 1, 1969, when draft lottery numbers were first drawn, my husband of three months had the lottery number 16.

In fact, in his case the low number was not relevant because he had been R.O.T.C. at Michigan State University and was already sworn in as a second lieutenant scheduled to go on active duty.

What my husband and I found most interesting is the study’s results of opinions in the 1973 presidential race. We had figured, and were proven right, that President Nixon needed to end the war to be re-elected. (That political need sent us home from Munich, Germany, in May 1972 instead of sending my husband to Vietnam.)

Therefore, we would have expected that men with low lottery numbers would also have figured this out for the 1973 presidential election.

A Google search for the article found the abstract of the original article.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

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