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Public opinion is central to representation, democratic accountability, and decision making. Yet, the public was long believed to be relatively uninterested in foreign affairs, absent an immediate threat to safety and welfare. It had become conventional to say that "voting ends at water's edge." We start the examination of the scholarly understanding of the role of foreign affairs in public opinion and voting at that low point of view. Much subsequent development saw an increasing degree of holding and using of attitudes and beliefs about foreign affairs among the public. Moving in parallel with developments in political psychology, theoretical and methodological advances led to an increasingly widely shared view that the public holds reasonably sensible and nuanced views, that these help shape their political behaviors, and that these, in turn, help shape and constrain foreign policy making.


This article was originally published in the Annual Review of Political Science. Copyright © 2006 Annual Reviews.