The GOP presidential candidates debating in New Hampshire tonight might be interested in a new Pew poll showing Americans increasingly in favour of scaling back American military commitments abroad as a way to cut the federal deficit.
The new poll shows 46% of Americans thinking the country should reduce its military commitments. Half of the Democratic respondents think it should be a top priority, and 44% of Republicans agree—a 15-point increase since September 2008.
The Republican Party has, with some exceptions, struck a martial tone in recent months while criticising President Barack Obama’s handling of the Arab Spring protests sweeping across the Middle East. Some say Obama has been too detached from the protests, expressing support only too little, too late.
But the new poll suggests that that argument is disconnected from the electorate, which wants to decrease American leadership in the international arena, and still does not yet know what to make of the Arab Spring.
Moreover, whereas the Bush years saw a wide partisan gap on this question (with Democrats mostly supporting decreased involvement and Republicans strongly disagreeing), the new poll shows that in 2011 that partisan gap has completely disappeared. 40-three per cent of Democrats now support less international involvement, while 45% of Republicans—a record high—feel the same.
Interestingly, responses to the changes sweeping across the Middle East vary between the parties. 30-two per cent of Democrats believe the changes will be good for the United States, though that number drops down to 16% among Republicans. A plurality of all Americans believes the changes won’t affect the U.S. either way, perhaps informing their newly chastened views on American involvement in the region and in the world at large.
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