Jason Dempsey and Our Army Featured in Columbia Magazine

Paul Hond at Columbia Magazine recently sat down with 2010-2011 White House Fellow Jason Dempsey to talk about service, policy, pugilism, and his new Princeton title, Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations. You can read the entire feature at the magazine’s site, including the story behind Dempsey’s eye-opening 2004 Citizenship and Service Survey and research featured in his book:

Dempsey first thought of doing a survey in early 2002, as a Columbia PhD candidate in search of a dissertation topic. With the nation engulfed in 9/11 patriotism, fear, and paranoia, and soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, the military was at the center of the national debate. “I started thinking that a study of social attitudes in the Army was needed, because there was a perception that the Army was overwhelmingly Republican, that we were hyperpolitical and voting at astronomical rates. So I said, ‘Well, here’s an opportunity,’ and really what I mean is an obligation. I was in a special position. I was given the tools by Columbia and by the Army to look at something that was central to the military’s relationship with society.”

Working under professor Robert Shapiro of the political science department, Dempsey navigated the Army bureaucracy to gain access to the airtight Army database, from which he drew his pool of respondents. His own experience on military bases told him that politics didn’t come up much in day-to-day Army business, and that election days weren’t the Super Bowl. “Come an election, you might be out training, or in the field, nowhere near a polling place, and nobody would blink an eye,” he says. “The idea that the Army was voting at high rates simply wasn’t accurate.”


  1. I am not really sure why anyone would think that any branch of the armed forces was out voting on every election. This is war time, I highly doubt that the soldiers are doing much outside of their military duties, trying to get in a little personal time with their families, and preparing to be deployed or re-deployed to the Iraq or Afghanistan.