The myth of the anti-war Democrats
: David Broder bursts the bubble of those who think there is a mass movement among Americans and particularly Democrats against the war:
Since Dean has emphasized his early opposition to the war in Iraq as his calling card in the race, it is easy to assume that his antiwar stand and his criticism of Lieberman, Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards for supporting the resolution authorizing the use of force must account for his strong showing — especially in New Hampshire.
Wrong. When the Democracy Corps team asked whether voters in those three states wanted a Democratic nominee “who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning” or one “who supported military action against Saddam Hussein but was critical of Bush for failing to win international support for the war,” voters in all three states chose the second alternative. Dean’s position was preferred by only 35 percent of the likely voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary — fewer than supported it in Iowa or South Carolina — while 58 percent chose the alternative….
The fact that Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire are not reflexively opposed to our involvement in Iraq is underlined by the poll finding that, by a margin of 54 percent to 38 percent, they favor a nominee who “reluctantly supports” Bush’s $87 billion aid request over one who opposes it — while Iowa and South Carolina voters lean slightly the other way.
If it’s not his early antiwar stand that is powering Dean, what explains his lead in the Jan. 27 primary? The Democracy Corps poll strongly suggests it is the fact that the New Hampshire primary electorate — including many of those independents — is overwhelmingly liberal on social issues on which Dean has identified himself….
In short, it is cultural forces — far more than anything else — that explain Dean’s appeal in New Hampshire, forces that may tug the other way when the race moves to more typical battleground states.
We, the people, see things in grays. We, the people, are smarter than we’re portrayed to be. This is a complex issue and we, the people, know it. We’re being painted in black-and-white but it’s a false picture.