- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

As President Bush continues to pave the path to war with Iraq, Americans appear to be willing to travel that road with him. Despite some urging from the international community to hold back, and whatever the international reactions to Secretary of State Colin Powell's efforts at the United Nations, it is clear that, among the American people, the Bush administration has made its case against Iraq. That is one of the conclusions of the February edition of the American Survey, conducted Feb. 4th and 5th. The survey consisted of 600 voters nationwide. It had a margin of error of plus/minus 4.0 percent.
Specifically, when asked a sequence of true-false questions, an overwhelming majority (89 percent) of respondents believe that Iraq either has or seeks nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. A similarly impressive margin (82 percent) believes that the Iraqis are helping terrorists. More importantly, three-quarters of the respondents believe that Iraq poses a serious threat to the safety of the United States.
Perhaps as surprising is that those sentiments were consistent across demographic groups. Only liberals broke from the norm, and only with respect to whether Iraq poses a serious threat to the United States. (Just 59 percent of self-identified liberals believe that it does).
We also asked whether a regime change in Iraq would bring about a change in the balance of power in the Middle East. Respondents split between their hopeful impulses and the hard lessons provided by history 51 percent said a regime change would bring about a change in the balance of power, 33 percent said it would not. Again, liberals were slightly more skeptical than conservatives. Interestingly, respondents overall showed a remarkable sanguinity about the realpolitik implied in the question only 16 percent refused to answer or offered that they did not know.
Finally, and most disturbingly, when asked who they trusted to protect the interests of the United States, 55 percent of respondents said the Bush administration. More than one in three (35 percent) said the United Nations and its Security Council. Among self-identified liberals, 57 percent said they trusted the United Nations more than the president. Among males, the president led by 34 points; among females, that lead shrank to seven points. Apart from the questions this raises about idea of popular sovereignty (how many electoral votes did U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan get?), it is a fairly clear indication that the ancient notion of a seamless front on foreign policy that politics end at water's edge is essentially dead.

Gary J. Andres is a senior managing partner with the Dutko Group and a former White House senior lobbyist. His column appears on Thursdays. Michael McKenna is co-founder of Andres-McKenna Research and a vice president at the DutkoGroup. E-mail: Mike.Mckenna@armpolling.com.

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