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For Third Way’s latest gun safety policy and message guidance, please visit our gun issues page. There you can also find reports produced by AGS in a special sub-category.

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Winning on National Security: Results of New Public Opinion Research

Author: Matt Bennett, Jeremy Rosner (Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner) and Sean Barney
In The National Security Program


In June and July, Third Way did extensive public opinion research with Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner to examine public perceptions of Democrats and Republicans on national security. In this strategy memo, we present a frame progressives should use to discuss national security issues in 2008 based on our findings.


For 30 years, progressive candidates have lost the national security debate to conservatives. While the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq have closed the gap, our data suggests that old perceptions of each party are beginning to reemerge. We analyze the underlying beliefs that influence public perception and argue that progressives must engage forcefully on national security to take advantage of the openings created by the Bush administration. By framing their own policies as ‘tough’ and ‘smart’ and branding conservatives as ‘reckless’ and ‘out of touch,’ progressive candidates and elected officials can create a major shift in public perception on national security for the first time in a generation. Included in the memo are proof points that can be used to argue these frames and a case study of Iraq to show how to pull it all together.

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