Thursday, August 31, 2006

AEI Report on Midterm Election, Terrorism, and Iraq

The American Enterprise Institute has released a survey on the midterm election, which is scheduled this November. Let me review “AEI Political Report, September 2006.” I would like to focus on debates regarding the war on terror and Iraq.

First, the report says the general trend of this election as follows.

As we head into the home stretch of the 2006 election campaigns, anti-incumbent sentiment is unusually high. Many polls suggest that Democrats are more fired up about going to the polls this November than Republicans.

Let me see two questions to evaluate this comment.

Q1: Would like to see your member of Congress reelected?

According to the survey by PSRA/Pew Research Center, the figure has dropped from 58% in June 2002 to 51% in August 2006. Certainly, anti-incumbent is rising, but still, the majority of voters prefer current members to stay in their jobs.

Q2: Compared to previous elections, are you more enthusiastic about voting than usual?

Gallup/USA Today survey this August shows that 36% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats are more enthusiastic. True, Democrats are more willing to vote this November than Republicans. But think again. Only 46% of Democrats are more enthusiastic than usual. The Democratic Party just seizes the opportunity to attack the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq and terrorism. They need to show feasible policy ideas, in order to take control of more congressional committees in the forthcoming election.

Regarding the war on terror, the Policy Report describes the trend as below.

Americans describe the world as more dangerous than at other times in their lives, and large numbers expect another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Few Americans think the terrorists are winning what Americans believe will be a long war, but they are split over whether the United States and its allies are winning or neither side is. Americans believe that the administration has made the country safer, but the president’s marks on handling the issue have come down. Concern about civil liberties has also risen since the period immediately after 9/11. The possible explanations: a reduced fear factor, Americans’ long-held suspicions of federal government power, and/or actions by the administration.

According to Gallup/USA Today survey, 76% of Americans say that the world is more dangerous these days. This is an outrageous figure. In addition, approval rates in the Bush administration’s policy in general and on terrorism have declined sharply. Overall approval rate has dropped from 83% in January 2002 to 40% in August 2006. Meanwhile, Terrorism approval rate has dropped from 88% in January 2002 to 47% in August 2006.

However, CBS News survey this August suggests that 51% of American people see the Bush administration’s policy has made the United States safer from terrorism, while 29% of them see their country less safe from terrorism. Actually, there has never been a major terrorist attack in US homeland since 9-11. From this point, current administration’s terrorism policy deserves some credits.

As mentioned in the Report, American voters seem to have become concerned with civil rights restrictions under the name of the war on terror. Also, confidence in this war is declining. In Gallup/CNN/USA Today Survey, the percentage of people who see the US and its allies are winning the war on terror has decreased from 42% in October 2001 to 35% in August 2006. As a whole, Americans see neither side is winning.

Regarding the Iraq War, 62% regarded it as a part of the war on terror in April 2003. In August 2006, 51% say it is irrelevant to counter terrorism operations (By CBS News/New York Times).

Despite those, the majority of Americans are still willing to give up some of personal freedom in order to reduce terrorist threats. Nevertheless, the number has declined from 71% in October 2001 to 54% in May 2006, according to Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey.

Consequently, Democrats can roll back to some extent in the November election. Some voters are exhausted with long wars in Iraq and against terrorism. But this is not a vital determinant in the election. Liberals are invigorated in New England, as witnessed in the defeat of Joseph Lieberman. Still, they have not captured the heart of the whole nation. Despite criticism to the Bush administration, some political consequences are accepted to the American public.

Which party shows more feasible policies against terrorism? This is no less important than election results.