Thursday, February 10, 2005


Another tool in the war propagandist's toolkit: polling

You had to know it was coming: Gallup did a poll, reported Tuesday, to determine popular approval of Bush's "performance" after the Iraqi election, which CNN says went "better than expected." Surprise! Bush's number shot up from 51% to 57%. But Steve Soto (via Taegan Goddard) of The Left Coaster notes that the sample was of 37% Republicans, 35% Independents and 28% Democrats. Gallup has inexplicably downsized the Democratic proportion of the population. But then Gallup is already known as a pollster who is "onboard."

That said, I expected Bush's number to improve. I wrote last Monday—

I know that a speech by Ted Kennedy calling for American troop withdrawal does not constitute significant political pressure. But I'll tell you what does—the polls. Americans do not like wars in which we appear to be losing. They do, on the other hand, thoroughly approve of wars where we appear to be winning. So if you convert this war from a "losing" proposition to a "winning" proposition, you'll see the poll numbers climb in support of the war. And not just this one!

CNN reports,

On the question of whether sending U.S. troops to Iraq was a mistake, 52 percent said "yes" and 47 percent said "no" during the week of January 14. But last week, the numbers flipped with 45 percent saying "yes" and 55 percent saying "no."

In the February poll, the majority of respondents, 61 percent, said that the Iraqi elections went "better than expected," and 31 percent felt it was "about as expected." And a similar number, 57 percent, said it should be a high or top U.S. priority to support the growth of democratic governments. Forty-two percent said it should be a low priority or not one at all.

Between January 7 and last week's poll, opinions remained almost unchanged on Bush's performance on Social Security, the economy and foreign affairs. [emphasis added]

In other words, the spike in Bush's approval number was derived from a changed perception of the war, which is in turn reinforced by the distorted poll itself! What is scarier is that the administration has found a rationale for war that's acceptable to the public—"supporting democracy."

I responded once (on someone else's blog) to a commenter who said in effect that "After 10 years the Germans got tired of Hitler." I pointed out that the Germans did not get tired of Hitler; they got tired of losing. As long as this administration can convince the public that we're "winning" the war, there will be no end to it.

And there will be more wars to come. Hitler didn't stop with Poland, and George doesn't want to stop with Iraq. Our "shock and awe" was Hitler's "blitzkrieg," the "lightning war."

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Doing the Watusi at the polling station: Reflections on David Corn

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