Desire for Change in Iraq
Republicans Enjoy Name Recognition Advantage for 2008 Presidential Contest
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The first edition of the 2008 George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a continuing negative political environment that is having a negative impact on the Republican Party. More than six-in-ten likely voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. In addition, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the Republicans in Congress all have at least a plurality of the likely electorate holding a negative image of them.
On key issues, the war in Iraq is clearly the dominant issue for voters and the one they expect Congress to deal with. Also, a plurality of the likely electorate (43%) believes the message of the recent Congressional elections was to send a message about changing the course in Iraq.
Voters are divided in their solution on how to change the course in Iraq—21 percent would increase the number of troops in Iraq; 32 percent would keep forces stable until the military leaders feel the situation is stable; 28 percent would set a deadline of leaving Iraq within one year; and 16 percent would withdraw the troops immediately. Likely voters are similarly divided about whether the war was worth it – 46% say it was worth it and 48% it was not worth it.
The Democratic Party has certainly made some gains from recent events with a majority of likely voters holding a favorable impression of the Democrats in Congress and the Democrats enjoying an issue handling advantage outside the margin of error on seven of the twelve issues tested.
However, this voter goodwill for the Democrats has certainly not solidified. On trial 2008 ballots, Sen. John McCain leads both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama by ten points. Similarly, Rudy Giuliani leads both Clinton and Obama by double digits. Looking at the image of their Congressional leaders, a majority of likely voters do not have an image of Sen. Harry Reid and more than one-third of likely voters do not have an image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Looking over this data, Republican pollster Ed Goeas writes, “The Republican Party now is like a badly beaten down stock – but a stock that is a good buy for the future. The Party’s base is still strong and it has returned to the basic principles and products that made it a strong stock in the first place.”
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake has this analysis: “Voters are intensely dissatisfied with the course in which the country is headed as well as the man charged with setting that course. As such, the opportunity – and need – for Democrats to continue to define their brand of leadership has never been greater.”
Christopher Arterton, dean of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, noted, “Two months after the elections, voters maintain their hopes that the Democratic Party will turn the course on most major issues, especially the war in Iraq. However, looking forward to the 2008 presidential elections, Republicans have an advantage at this early stage. Democrats will need to answer the voter’s call for change and prove that they are worthy of recapturing the White House.”
This bipartisan GW-Battleground 2008 Poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide Jan. 8-11, 2007, and yields a margin of error of ± 3.1 percent.
First conducted in 1991, the GW-Battleground Poll has accurately portrayed the political climate through four presidential and three mid-term election cycles. The poll continues to be an in-depth bipartisan look at the political climate and a leader in setting the standards for polling. This nationally recognized series of scientific surveys is unique to the industry, in that it offers the distinct perspectives of two top pollsters from different sides of the aisle. The George Washington University is the sponsor of the GW-Battleground Poll, a highly regarded, bipartisan election survey conducted by top polling firms Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group.
The University's role in the poll is guided by its Graduate School of Political Management. GW's public affairs, public policy, and international affairs programs (undergraduate and graduate) are frequently ranked highly in leading publications, including recognition among the Top 10 "Most Politically Active" colleges and universities in the 2007 Princeton Review and as the "Hottest School for Political Junkies," according to the 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide. The George Washington University also is one of the nation's best schools in fostering social responsibility and public service, according to the Princeton Review and Washington Monthly, which both included the University among its top-rated schools for community service in 2005.