Majority Oppose Supplemental Spending Shenanigans
Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies* has announced the results of a telephone survey conducted for the Republican National Committee of 800 registered voters from March 25-27, 2007. They found a majority opposed to the provisions of the Iraq War Supplemental Spending bill that just passed both Houses of Congress but faces an almost certain veto by President Bush.
Key Findings follow in block quotes below, with analysis interspersed.
1. A solid majority of Americans want Congress to fully fund the war in Iraq.
When asked if they favor or oppose Congress fully funding the war in Iraq, 56% favor fully funding the war in Iraq, while just 38% oppose. In fact, more voters STRONGLY favor (40%) Congress fully funding the war in Iraq than out-right oppose it (38%).
Support for funding our troops is consistent across the board:
- Republicans are unified with 87% support. A majority (55%) of Independents support fully funding the war in Iraq. Despite the party line vote in Congress, more than one in four Democrats support funding for our military in Iraq.
- Across the country, majorities of Americans support funding our troops – including 51% in the Northeast, 56% in the Midwest, 58% in the South, and 59% in the West.
The phrase “fully fund” may be more likely to lead to positive response than some other choices. Other surveys released this week have indicated majority support for setting a deadline to bring the troops home.
2. Americans soundly reject key components of the Democratic funding bill for Iraq.
When asked about the Democrats attaching spending for non-defense, domestic projects to a defense bill, more than three-in-five voters (64%) oppose the bill, including a majority (53%) who STRONGLY oppose it. Just 30% favor the Democrats use of pork barrel projects in the Iraq War funding legislation.
- Almost half of Democratic voters (41%) oppose including domestic spending in a defense bill.
A majority (54%) also oppose Democrats imposing a reduction in troops below levels requested by military commanders, while just 41% favor.
- Among Independents, 54% oppose the troop reduction levels, while just 37% favor it.
The first set of responses is interesting only in that the numbers are so low. People generally hate pork barrel spending and would prefer to see “clean” bills that focused only on the titular subject of the legislation.
Much more interesting is that a bare majority oppose reducing troop numbers. How the question was framed is unclear from the press release, however. It’s somewhat odd to me that Independents match the general population exactly.
They next turn to the Matt Yglesias question:
3. Voters point the finger of blame squarely in the Democrats’ direction for not funding the troops.
We read voters the following statements and asked them to pick which statement they agreed with the most.
President Bush has declared that he will veto the bill because it sets a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq and includes billions of dollars in non-emergency spending. By vetoing this bill, a spending bill for the troops will not be passed.
In thinking about this, which position do you agree with most? (ROTATE STATEMENTS)
40% (SOME/OTHER) people say that if President Bush vetoes the Democratic spending bill then Bush should be blamed for not funding the troops because his veto will mean that there is no spending package available for the troops.
50% (OTHER/SOME) people say that if President Bush vetoes the Democratic spending bill then the Democrats in Congress are to be blamed for not funding the troops because they attached restrictions on the President and military commanders in Iraq along with billions of dollars in pork barrel spending to a bill intended to help the troops.
A plurality of Independent voters (47%) would blame Democrats for not funding the troops, while just 33% say the blame lies with the President.
The second question is a bit wordy and the use of the phrase “billions of dollars in pork barrel spending to a bill intended to help the troops” could well be prejudicial. Again, it’s odd to me that Independents are more supportive of the president on this than the general population, which tends to have something like a 1/3-1/3-1/3 Democrat-Republican-Independent breakdown.
My guess, though, is that the numbers wouldn’t move much on this one with a cleaner wording. Even though the war and the president are both unpopular, people generally don’t want Congress micromanaging our wars.
UPDATE: In the comments, “Anjin-San” says these are “Nice GOP talking points.”
Absolutely. This is, after all, a poll commisioned by the RNC.
The GOP is polling to see how the public reacts to the way it’s trying to frame the debate. What the polling shows is that, if they can persuade the public that the issue is “fully funding the war,” “not adding pork to a war bill,” or “Democrats in Congress micromanaging the war,” they win. That’s actually useful information. If the GOP talking points were polling at 40%, they’d need a very different political strategy.
Of course, if they were polling at 40%, they probably wouldn’t be issuing a press release on the results. That’s the advantage of paying for your own survey research.
*Full disclosure: My wife is the firm’s COO.