National Security Gap Returns, Third Way Research Reveals
Washington: In a stark warning to Democrats, a new memo states that the parity in public trust on national security between Republicans and Democrats that prevailed in 2006 is now gone.
Third Way, along with the research firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR), has issued a memo based on new public opinion research showing that the historic gap between the two parties, which closed two years ago during the depths of public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, is returning. The memo also details the strategy that Democrats must use if they want to restore parity to the national security debate.
In their memo, Winning on National Security, which is based on a national poll and a series of focus groups conducted with Jeremy Rosner of GQRR – Third Way finds that while the public is deeply unhappy with the Bush approach to Iraq and other foreign policy issues, the 30 year-old doubts about Democrats are also back. The public perceives Democrats as unwilling to use force, out of touch with the military, and too willing to put politics over principle on security.
But along with this sobering wake-up call for Democrats, Third Way also finds that new doubts about Republicans are emerging as well. They advise Democrats to tell a “cohesive and compelling story about security,” dubbing the Republican approach “reckless and out of touch.” They advise that the Democrats’ describe their own approach as “tough and smart.” The group notes that when the two approaches are framed properly, the Democratic message substantially outperforms the Republican one.
Matt Bennett, a Third Way Vice President and co-author of the memo, notes that “on balance, the news is good for Democrats – they have the opportunity to change the playing field on national security for the first time in a generation.” But he warns that “if Democrats fall into old habits, they risk returning to the wilderness on these issues.” For example, he says that arguments based on “guns vs. butter” – a call for withdrawal from Iraq so that the cost of the war can be spent at home – are “fool’s gold for Democrats.” “These types of arguments just underscore public doubts about Democrats and highlight fears about Democrats as weak and interested only on their domestic priorities.”
In addition, the memo concludes, Democrats must show they will go on the offensive to protect the country, value the military, and enact a tough and smart agenda to keep the country safe. Democrats also must not invoke public opinion as justification for national security policies.
Full survey results are available at http://gqrr.com/index.php?ID=2241.
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212