The newly-launched Security and Peace Institute (a joint project of The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress) have released a survey conducted for them by the Marttila Communications Group, with an extensive accompanying report. This lengthy survey has a large sample size (1600 voters) which was split-sampled through most of the survey so that an exceptionally wide range of questions and alternative wordings could be tested.
The survey’s key findings (summarized below) indicate that, while Republicans retain a substantial lead as the party best able to deal with national security issues, voters’ broad foreign policy and security goals should provide a very significant opening for Democrats in the years ahead.
Several key findings:
* As a result of the Iraq war, a majority of Americans are now more reluctant to support the use of U.S. troops. However, there are several specific circumstances under which a majority do support the U.S. use of troops, including disrupting an attack planned by a foreign country or terrorists, to support NATO or UN peacekeeping, and to halt genocide.
* Large majorities of Americans believe that America’s international reputation has deteriorated since President Bush took office. Most believe that the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq badly eroded U.S. credibility and that this loss of status is a serious concern.
* Voters strongly support U.S. action to protect human rights abroad, prevent genocide, and check the spread of AIDS. They generally agree that the United States has a moral role to play in world affairs.
* Solid majorities of Americans believe that the United States should be active in world affairs and continue to play an active role in the UN.
In short, these survey data give every reason to suppose Democrats and progressives can compete effectively with Bush and the GOP on the terrain of foreign policy and national security. It would be an act of political malpractice to ignore this opportunity and cede these areas to the GOP.