Thursday, June 17, 2004

Surprising, but Welcome News: Bush Actually Moves Up in the Polls


Many of us thought President Bush would get a "Reagan bounce," and it looks like he has. Here is the Pew Research poll, just out this evening, that may get some news media attention tomorrow. (I suspect this will get more attention on Fox News than on CNN or NPR, but let's wait and see.)

The summary of the poll's findings states:

"Americans are paying markedly less attention to Iraq than in the last two months. At the same time, their opinions about the war have become more positive. The number of Americans who think the U.S. military effort is going well has jumped from 46% in May to 57%, despite ongoing violence in Iraq and the widening prison abuse scandal. And the percentage of the public who believes it was right to go to war inched up to 55%, from 51% in May."

We're no expert ad reading polls, but these numbers suggest that people are "settling in for the long haul" on the war in Iraq. Rather than focus on each detail or bit of good and bad news, more Americans seem to be paying attention to trends and to the White House's explanations of what the USA is trying to accomplish in Iraq, long-term. At least we hope we're right about that. The Pew report thinks this does suggest that people are "possibly more hardened to events there." This is probably a good thing. Coalition forces need the staying power that comes from steady support and patience on the home front.

One possible contributing factor to all this, in our opinion: Maybe the reminders of Ronald Reagan's steadfastness in opposing communism, the last great evil the West faced, has helped voters to see that we need the same kind of long view now when we are facing down Islamofascism.

Not that all the news in the poll is rosy, however. The summary includes this finding:

"Regarding one important consequence of the war, however, the public has become considerably more negative. Just 43% of Americans say the Iraq war has helped the war on terrorism while about as many (44%) believe it has hurt the war on terrorism. About a year ago, 65% felt the war had helped the war on terrorism and as recently as March, 50% expressed that view. Women, especially white women, have become particularly skeptical that the war is helping the war on terrorism. In March, a solid majority of white women (54%) said the war in Iraq helped the war on terrorism; that number has dropped to 43%."

The Administration has to do a better job of telling its story about this. We think there is a good story to tell: All the unparalleled military success in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in breaking up Al-Quaeda and capturing its leaders, the capture of Al-Quaeda cell leaders in the USA, and the nascent free government in Iraq. for example. All of this is evidence of tremendous progress. Now if Bush and Co. can just get that message through the news media filter to the people . . . .


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