Pew Research Center

Americans still oppose Syria intervention despite Obama’s push for war


In a last ditch effort to gain public support for military strikes against Syria, President Barack Obama will take his case for intervention directly to the American people in a televised address tomorrow evening.

While the White House insists that its confident that Congress will sign off on the strikes, the political reality is that there isn’t much support for involvement in another country’s internal conflict after more than a decade of war in the Middle East. Members of Congress have heard from constituents, many of whom have called or written their representatives to speak against the proposed military strikes.

Public opinion, which is driving the opposition to intervention in Syria, remains a high hurdle for President Obama to clear, according to three polls released on Monday.

CNN finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe that Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people. Despite that, however, 59% said that they don’t want Congress to authorize force against Syria and 55% said that they would oppose intervention even if Congress does approve military strikes. Only 39% support President Obama’s push for war.

While the White House has reserved the option to attack without support from Congress, the CNN poll also found that 71% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria without congressional approval.

Gun Control Backfires on Obama

Barack Obama

President Obama loves to point to a poll that said 90 percent of all Americans wanted tougher background checks.  After the measure failed in the Senate, Obama wanted that 90 percent to let Congress know how they felt.

Talk about your backfires:

But a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll suggests that post-vote attitudes stray from the wide support for the background check measure before the debate, which hovered around 85% in multiple polls.

A plurality of Americans–47%–say they are either “angry” or “disappointed” with the Senate’s action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39% say they are “relieved” or “happy” about the vote.

I always thought those earlier numbers were soft, and they were.

You see, one of the issues has always been that many polls don’t really capture how committed to something a respondent really is.  Someone may support the idea of tougher background checks, but how important is really is to them.

Americans Say They Don’t Trust Their Government

A long time ago, I asked people “Why Do You Trust Your Government?” It appears I now have an answer: they don’t.

As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

1-31-13 #1The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.

In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.

The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.

Republicans Have A More Negative View Of Libertarians Than Democrats Or Independents

Interesting results from a Pew Research survey:

More than four-in-ten independents (44%) react positively to the word “libertarian,” while 32% have a negative reaction. Democrats are nearly evenly divided (39% positive, 37% negative). However, Republicans on balance have a negative impression of this term (44% negative, 31% positive).

Bruce McQuain doesn’t find the apparent Republican disdain for libertarians surprising:

In many ways we’re actually competition for Republicans and try to hold them to their principles and slam them when they don’t live up to them. But Republicans don’t like us on the social side of things

Commentators, from the left, of course, draw other conclusions:

The notion that Republicans are libertarian is ludicrous. They stick their noses into our bedrooms, into our doctors’ offices, into churches. They demand the roundup of people who don’t look like them. They whine about Miranda rights and due process. They are more concerned about the rights of big energy conglomerates, than they are about the rights of people to enjoy long walks on pristine beaches. They whine about true independent and free media that doesn’t validate their ideology. They freak out about anyone who doesn’t believe in their god, or worse, in any god at all.

For the American Taliban, “liberty” means their ability to impose their beliefs and lifestyle on the rest of society.

Today in Liberty: Americans reject Obama’s “change,” Supreme Court passes on gun rights case

“The phone records of innocent Americans do not relate to terrorism, whatsoever; and they are not reasonably likely to lead to information that relates to terrorism. Put simply, the phone calls we make to our friends, our families, and business associates are private and have nothing to do with terrorism or the government’s efforts to stop it.” — Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

— Primary day in North Carolina: Voters in the Tar Heel State will head to the polls today to cast their votes in their respective party primaries. Among the most watched races is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, where Greg Brannon is hoping to pull state House Speaker Thom Tillis into a runoff. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) visited the state yesterday to stump for Brannon. “As we stand here, the debt clock is spiraling out of control,” Paul told a crowd gathered in Charlotte. “Send us a champion. Send us a hero. Send us a dragon slayer,” he added, referring to Brannon. Public Policy Polling’s final survey, released yesterday, shows that Brannon has picked up steam, but Tillis is hovering at the 40 percent mark needed to avoid the runoff.

Democrats can’t “fix” a train wreck

There were no balloons and confetti this weekend to mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. The law has come the most polarizing issue in the country, one that is almost certainly going to play a role in the 2014 mid-term election.

CNN host John King went through the most recent poll numbers from Pew Research this weekend, noting that Obamacare “is on life support,” as 53% of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, while just 41% approve.

Facing the real possibility of a Republican wave this fall, Democrats have pivoted on the “fix” Obamacare message, one that didn’t do much good for them in the recent Florida special congressional election. Peter Suderman recently explained that the “fix” message doesn’t really make much sense because Democrats aren’t saying how they would do to actually address problems with the law:

Majority disapproves of NSA surveillance, public pans Obama’s “reforms”


President Barack Obama’s big speech on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic surveillance programs fell flat with Americans, according to a new USA Today/Pew Research poll.

The poll, which was released yesterday afternoon, found that 53% of Americans disapprove of the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone and Internet records, up from 44% in July, a month after the surveillance programs were revealed to the public. Just 40% approve of the NSA programs, down from 50% last summer.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Republicans and 57% of independents disapprove of the NSA programs, while 37% and 38% approve.

The divide among Democrats isn’t nearly as wide. The poll found that 48% of those from President Obama’s party disapprove of the NSA programs. Forty-six percent (46%), however, approve.

On Friday, President Obama unveiled a series of so-called “reforms” to the NSA phone metadata program. He pledged a “new approach” to intelligence-gathering by taking the program out of the hands of the NSA, though he will not end the bulk collection of metadata.

When it comes to these purported reforms, only 23% of Americans said that the changes will increase protections on people’s privacy, while an eye-popping of 73% of Americans don’t believe the changes will make a difference.

Seventy percent (70%) of Americans said that they don’t believe that the should have to sacrifice their privacy to be safe from the threat of terrorism. Just 26% are willing to trade essential liberty for security.

Poll: Republicans ready to party like it’s 2010

Republicans are more excited about the 2014 mid-term election than Democrats, according to a poll released earlier this week by Pew Research. In fact, they’re more excited than they were at this same point in 2010, the election year in which Republicans gained 63 seats and took control of the House of Representatives.

The poll found that 51% of Americans are looking forward to the 2014 congressional mid-term election, which, Pew Research explained, is around the same at this point in January 2010. But Republicans have an edge over Democrats in anticipation.

“Currently,” the polling firm noted, “63% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats say they are anticipating the midterm elections; a similar gap was evident four years ago (60% of Republicans vs. 48% of Democrats).”

That’s an ominous sign for Democrats. But there is still a lot of time between now and November, and anything can happen, as has been pointed out in this space before. Congressional Republicans could, for example, overplay their hand on big issues that may either hurt them with their base or needed independent voters, who aren’t looking forward to the mid-terms as everybody else.

Unless there is a game-changing event, like another government shutdown, Republicans will almost certainly hold the House. Control of the Senate, however, is entirely up for grabs. Republicans need a net-six seats to win the chamber, and most political analysts and prognosticators have practically given them three — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Millennials still down on Obama and Obamacare

Obama's youth

How is the White House supposed to sell an agenda to young people when they no longer support President Obama and aren’t to fond of Obamacare? That’s a question some White House advisors should be asking themselves after yet another poll confirms that Millennials disapprove of President Obama’s job performance and they’re decisively opposed to Obamacare:

Forty-five percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job; 46% disapprove of his job performance, according to a year-end USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll. The president’s approval rating with young Americans — which stood at 67% just ahead of his second inauguration less than a year ago — now mirrors the general population, according to the poll.
In the USA TODAY/Pew poll, just 41% approve of his signature health care policy, while 54% disapprove. Overall, 40% of Americans approve and 55% disapprove of his health care policy, according to the poll.

The USA Today/Pew poll fairly consistent with others from Quinnipiac and ABC News/Washington Post, but, not as devastating as the recent Harvard University survey. But the problems for President Obama don’t end at his approval rating. The opposition to Obamacare found in the USA Today/Pew poll is probably the worst news, though, likely related to his declining numbers.

Media Matters declares victory over Fox News despite ratings dominance


Media Matters for America, the leftist “watchdog” organization funded in part by George Soros, declared victory on Friday in its long battle against Fox News and is moving on to other fronts, including social media and blogs:

[I]n the coming years, Fox will no longer be the center of Media Matters’ universe. That’s because the group believes it has effectively discredited the network’s desire to be seen as “fair and balanced.”

“The war on Fox is over,” said Media Matters Executive Vice President Angelo Carusone. “And it’s not just that it’s over, but it was very successful. To a large extent, we won.”

According to its strategic plan for the next three years, a copy of which was provided to The Huffington Post, Media Matters envisions shifting its focus to new, increasingly influential targets, including Spanish-language media, social media streams, alternative online outlets and morning and entertainment sources. It will enhance its state media and issue-based monitoring, as well as continue its focus on right-wing radio and legacy outlets.

Fox News has long-been a target of the left. Media Matters and others claim that it has a conservative bias. President Barack Obama has called Fox News “destructive” and some of his subordinates have labeled the news channel as a “wing of the Republican Party.”

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