I was making my rounds through the blogsphere this morning and happened upon an article over at Daily Kos indicating it is the will of the American people to have troops withdrawn by the Fall of 2008. The author, intending to shift blame for the inevitable veto of the war spending bill squarely onto Bush’s shoulders sites gallup polls to show the bill, which narrowly passed through Congress has the support of the American people.

The problem with citing these Gallup polls however, is that if one reads into these polls they give a clear indication as to why they can not, and should not be trusted. By examining the USA Today Gallup poll several problems emerge. In order to examine these problems which arise from the poll we must first ignore 2 important facts

      1. The poll was only the opinion of 1007 adults (not necessarily 1007 voters)
      2. 429 of those polled described themselves as leaning Republican while 493 described themselves as leaning Democrat (indicating a 7% bias towards the Democrats).

The reason it is important to ignore these facts, although I believe they do carry some weight in the outcome of the polls, is because these are facts which we cannot change. It is the unfortunate outcome of randomized polling. The answers which need to be analyzed are the ones which give an indication as to the knowledge of those polled.

For example, when asked “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi”, 19% stated they have never heard of her. Likewise when asked about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 18% replied they never heard of him. Most amazing however is that 8% have never even heard of John Edwards!

The above numbers tell me that almost 1 in 5 individuals polled by USA today have little or no knowledge of American politics. Can we expect our President to dictate foreign policy based on the opinion of someone who has never heard of Nancy Pelosi?

Looking deeper into the polls we find that not only is a good sized portion of these people ignorant to American politics, we find they do not care about stability in Iraq either. Although 60% of those questioned are in favor of setting a timetable for troop withdrawal no later than the fall of 2008, 53% of people also believe insurgents will step up up attacks once the U.S. reduces the number of troops.

According to this poll, a majority of people believe we should reduce the number of troops in Iraq, even though a majority of people believe a troop reduction will lead to an increase in attacks! The safety of soldiers left in Iraq after the troop reduction obviously was not of concern to some of these individuals.

Regardless of the outcome of these polls however, I think it is important to note (again), the President is Commander in Chief of our armed forces. Congress does not have the authority to demand a troop reduction in Iraq, their only power is to cut funding. But they should think carefully about that because recent Gallup polls show 61% of Americans oppose denying the funding needed to send any additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

 

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