Polls: Young People Are More Supportive of the War in Iraq

Gallup has a new poll out on age as factor in Iraq war support.  Read it quick, because these articles usually go up behind a pay firewall after a while.  The study yields this conclusion:

Here again, we find evidence for the persistence of the age factor in views of the war regardless of one's gender or political orientation. Within every subgroup of the American population created by the combination of age, gender, and party identification, those who are 50 and older are more likely than those under age 50 to say the war was a mistake.

All in all, perceptions that the war was a mistake range from a low of 20% among 18- to 49-year-old Republican women to a high of 89% among Democratic men and Democratic women aged 50 and older.

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Polls Show Declining Power of Gun Lobby

Gun Lobby's Declining Pull
By Glenn Hurowitz

Even in the wake of a shooting as horrific as the Virginia Tech massacre, the gun lobby still looms very large in Washington. Neither the congressional leadership nor any of the leading presidential candidates have indicated that they're going to bring up gun control legislation that could prevent guns from getting into the hands of people like Cho Seung-Hui - or the criminals who used guns to kill 11,624 Americans in 2004 alone. "I hope there's not a rush to do anything," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
It's not that most Democrats think that common sense gun control measures don't make sense. It's that they've bought into the notion (peddled aggressively by the National Rifle Association) that any support at all for gun control is political suicide.  
It's an old Washington trick: if you can't win a policy debate on the merits, convince politicians that a certain policy will help them get elected. And the NRA has been a master at this gambit. During the 12 years in which Republicans controlled Congress, lots of pro-gun candidates won big with the NRA's vocal support.
But are those victories actually attributable to the gun issue - or were there other factors at work as well?
Public opinion data suggests that the gun lobby has played only a very small role in determining election outcomes; indeed, there's a strong indication that support for reasonable gun control measures actually boosts performance at the polls, even in relatively conservative districts.

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Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

UPDATE: Since posting this diary early this morning, Democrats have come forward with a plan on Iraq that appears - for the first time - to be binding. This is a solid (though certainly not perfect) step, indeed. Let me add two things: First, in the last week, we've seen how these proposals can get floated and then undercut. Second, when such plans do get undercut, they often get undercut by the same anti-democratic factions outlined in this diary - factions that we as progressives will have to continue to work to pressure if this plan, or any other, is going to pass. Oh, and one final note: To those automatons who are so blinded by partisan rage that they can't see the need to pressure Democrats, I say that this new announcement by Democrats is a vindication for all of us who have tried - like studious movement participants - to hold both parties' feet to the fire.

One of my idiosyncratic little hobbies of late is to keep a tally on statements by Washington politicians and pundits that are express an open hatred for democracy. This hobby is a subset of a bigger collection of quotes I collect that show how Washington politicians are entirely divorced from the political reality they purport to be experts on - a classic example is Sen. Chuck Schumer's hilariously moronic declaration that strengthening the Patriot Act is politically good for red state Democrats (thanks for your helping make the Montana Senate race that much harder, Chuck!). I'm not exactly sure why I focus on this, other than because it is important to always remind ourselves just how different - and hateful - the Beltway is towards the country it purports to represent. Today, we get a beauty from South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D).

In the Washington Post's solid writeup of the debate over Iraq in the House, a faction of Democrats continues to attack the very Election 2006 mandate they were vaulted into office on: opposition to the war. Justifying her opposition to bills that would stop President Bush's military escalation, we get this from South Dakota's lone House member:

"I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."

I give Herseth credit - her use of "overreacting" deviously implies that there are just a few very recent polls here and there showing negligible opposition to the war, and that Serious People in Congress should never "overreact" to the supposed fleeting whims of the American people. But, of course, the American public has been strongly critical of the Iraq War for almost 4 years now.

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Why People Supported And Opposed the Iraq War

So, as you probably have seen discussed on at least one other blog by now, Kevin Drum wants to know why progressive bloggers who opposed the war before it began held that opinion. I actually hold a similar desire, and have for some time. However, instead of caring what pundits thought four years ago, I have always wanted to know why the American people either supported or opposed the war before it began.

I am not referring to opinion polls on whether or not people think the war was a mistake, whether or not we should withdraw troops, or whether or not people think the war is going well. Instead, I have longed for something that pollsters often appear loathe to do: ask the general public why it supports or opposes the war, why it thinks the war is going well or poorly, and why people think we should escalate or withdraw. There have been hundreds of public polls asking the general public if it supports something, but basically nothing asking people why they support or oppose something.

The absence of polling on public rationales is stunning, and it goes beyond Iraq. Outside of exit polls, people are hardly ever asked why they support or oppose anything, just if they support or oppose something. Wouldn't a richer view of public opinion take into account rationale, instead of just support or opposition? Since many other factors could be involved, such as the cost of a poll, I hesitate to immediately label the absence of polling on public rationale as "elitism." However, the lack of interest large news organizations show in commissioning polls (and large news organizations commission most polls) that ask the public why they hold position x, y or z, certainly makes me wonder if they even care why the public holds position x, y or z. Perhaps they would simply have their highly paid opinion journalists declare why the country holds opinion x, y, or z, rather than actually ask the public the public at large.

More in the extended entry.

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Britain: A Democracy In Crisis

One of the biggest political scandals in Britain today is the cash for peerages affair, in which Tony Blair's Labour party is alleged to have `rewarded' large donors with peerages (a title and membership of the House of Lords). It is almost certainly true that this has happened and it is almost certainly true that it has been happening for decades. It is undoubtedly an important issue and the necessary legislative steps needed to prevent it happening again should be taken. It is, however, a grave mistake to think that the problems with British democracy end there.

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