30 August 2013

Surveying OIP Derangement Syndrome

There are a lot of questions now about how the US government should respond to Syrian government atrocities, though the Constitution’s requirement of congressional approval before non-emergency military action should not be among them.

However, for people whose foreign policy is driven by OIP Derangement Syndrome, President Barack Obama’s move toward attacking Syrian military sites has helped to clarify things. Now those folks know they definitely don’t like that idea.

An NBC News survey captured that effect, as Nate Cohn highlighted in the The New Republic:

Surveys conducted earlier this year showed that Republicans were consistently more likely than Democrats to support striking Syria if Assad used chemical weapons. But partisanship is powerful in the age of President Obama, powerful enough to overcome longstanding partisan preferences on international affairs. . . .

In every previous survey, Republicans were most likely to support attacking Syria. Each poll showed more than 50 percent of Republicans willing to strike Assad if he used chemical weapons. Today’s NBC News poll shows far less Republican support, with just 41 percent in support and 49 percent opposed. That’s 15 points less than April’s Pew Research survey, which found that 56 percent of Republicans would support strikes. In comparison, Democratic support hasn’t declined—46 percent support strikes, just like in April.
The most isolationist Republicans were already opposed to getting involved in the Syrian civil war, but this shift in party opinion is significant in both its size and its timing—just when the Assad regime has actually used chemical weapons and the Obama administration is speaking about a harsh response. That shift is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s 180° spin in 2011 on whether the US should participate in an attack on Libya right after President Obama took that course.

That wasn’t the only survey that caught OIP Derangement Syndrome this month. Public Policy Polling, whose lean to the left didn’t stop it from predicting last November’s election results well, added this question to a survey of Louisiana Republicans on their presidential choices for 2016:
Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?
Besides those two men’s names, respondents could choose “Not sure,” which we therefore have to treat as incorporating “I don’t want to answer this silly question.” And that was the most common response, with a plurality of 44% of the 247 Republicans responding.

But 29% of Louisiana Republicans told PPP that Barack Obama, serving his first year in the US Senate in 2005, was more responsible for the slow US government response to Hurricane Katrina than George W. Bush, then the President. Only 28% heard those two names and agreed that Bush had more responsibility.

While it was possible to present these results as evidence of Republican ignorance, as Talking Points Memo did, that’s too charitable. More than a quarter of the Republicans polled gave an answer that they must have known was untrue in order to say something bad about President Obama.

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

Pew Research issued another poll today. In April the firm found 56% of Republicans said they would support air strikes. In September 70% of Republicans opposed them.

What happened in the meantime to cause a third of all Republicans to switch their position? The Assad forces actually killed hundreds of civilians with chemical gas. And President Obama came out in favor of air strikes.