If Democrats hoped to ride a wave of discontent on the war to electoral victory in 2008, they may face a harsh awakening. New Rasmussen polling released yesterday shows a surge in confidence among American voters in the war, reaching its highest levels in two years. A small plurality now believes that Iraq will continue to improve, a far cry from just four months ago:
The latest Rasmussen Reports tracking poll finds that 47% of Americans now say the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror (see crosstabs). That’s up from 43% a month ago and reflects is the highest level of confidence measured since December 2005. Over the past 35 months, confidence in the War on Terror has been higher than today only twice, in November and December 2005.
The 47% who believe the U.S. and its allies are winning is up significantly from earlier in the year. During the first nine months of 2007, the number believing that the U.S. fell as low as 33% and reached the 40% level just once. During calendar year 2006, an average of 40% believed the U.S. and its allies were winning. That average was 45% in 2005.
In what may be just as significant a finding, only 24% of voters now believe the terrorists are winning. That’s down from 30% a month ago and represents the lowest level of pessimism recorded since 2004.
The Rasmussen Reports telephone survey also found that 35% of all American voters expect things to get better in Iraq over the next six months while 32% expect the situation to get worse. That’s the first time in years that a plurality has given a positive assessment on the situation in Iraq. The recent increase in optimism is substantial. Just four months ago, in July, 49% of American voters offered a pessimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq and only 23% expected things to get better.
The crosstabs hold some intriguing data. On the general question for the GWOT, almost all demographics now have majorities or pluralities believing that the US and its allies are winning. The only demographic categories that believe the US is losing are Democrats and liberals. Across all other age, gender, and ethnic demos, large pluralities or majorities believe the US and the West are prevailing.
That certainly denotes a clear and narrow defeatism. That’s less clear but still present on Iraq’s prospects in the next six months. Women, blacks, and 18-29 year old voters have small pluralities for worse prospects. Democrats, on the other hand, have a wide plurality (45-12) predicting failure, and self-described liberals have a majority (51-13). Democrats and liberals have a large investment in that failure, and they’re not ready to relinquish it.
They may run into some serious electoral trouble if they continue to cling to defeat. In both categories, self-described moderates and political independents break sharply with Democrats. For the GWOT, moderates believe the US is winning, 44-24, a significant plurality, and independents follow closely at 47-21. On Iraq, it’s a tossup; moderates tie at 32, while independents skew slightly negative at 34-29. The trends clearly show most voters moving away from the Democrats, and if the situation continues to improve in Iraq, that will only continue.
With the spending bill up in the air, the Democrats want to play to their anti-war base and argue for defeat and retreat. If they continue to do so, the anti-war base will be all they have left by the time the 2008 elections arrive.