Presidential Candidates and State Crime: Views of Some U.S. College Students

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This is a preliminary investigation of hawkish public opinion, understood as criminogenic in that it provides political support for state crimes of aggressive militarism. Our critical criminology approach treats public support for, or acceptance of, state aggression as part of criminogenic political culture. Despite growing interest among critical criminologists in broader perspectives on state crime and the politics of culture, there has been no work on this topic. Our survey of 53 criminal justice students at a liberal arts college finds both hawkish (militarist) and dovish (peaceful) beliefs and preferences regarding U.S. policy and the two major 2008 presidential candidates, Obama and McCain. We investigate whether authoritarianism helps explain hawkish opinions, but find little evidence for that expectation. We find evidence of respondent underestimation of the hawkishness of U.S. politics. We also find extensive evidence of dovish policy preferences, such as approval of diplomacy, a major attraction to Obama.