The question arises in light of the findings by Charles Franklin [pictured here] at Pollster.com. According to his November 6th Pollster.com analysis, there has been a "remarkable" shift, in a positive direction, in public opinion on the war in Iraq.
Excerpts from Franklin's Ten Months of Opinion Change on War and More [emphasis added]:
- Some interesting changes have taken place in opinion about the war, the president, congress and the country. It is too early, and the changes too modest, to declare this a "turning point" in opinion, but the changes are consistent enough to take a hard look and ponder if there is still potential for significant shifts over the next 52 weeks until Election Day 2008.
- The single most striking shift is the change in opinion about how the war in Iraq is going. After four and a half years of steady downward trends, there has been a reversal of direction since July.
- From January through June, the long running collapse in positive evaluation of the war (especially in the second half of 2006) halted. The flattening now appears to have clearly coincided with the change in command and troop levels.
- This flattening didn't signal rising opinion on the war-- but after dropping over 13 percentage points in six months, simply arresting the collapse was a major plus for the administration. And this is a particularly striking thing given that the spring of 2007 was a focal point for critiques of the war in Congress, with Democratic leadership repeatedly pushing votes that would have required changes in Iraq policy of various kinds. And this flattening came at the same time that casualties rose.
- The second phase of opinion change started in early July, when positive evaluations of the war took their first upturn since late 2003 (around the time of the capture of Saddam Husein). The trend estimate has turned up some 8 percentage points since July 1, still not back to early 2006 levels, but remarkable this late in an unpopular war and with a weak leader and determined opposition.
- Republicans (including the president) have made real progress in swaying opinion to their side, while 10 months of Democratic efforts have failed to persuade citizens that the war continues to be a disaster. The war of partisan persuasion has tilted towards the Republicans and away from the Democrats, at least in this particular aspect.
How will the MSM cover this news? The New York Times didn't exactly splash it across the front page, but a discussion of the Pollster report did turn up yesterday in the Times's "Opinionator" blog. Opinionator Tobin Harshaw, after describing the Pollster report, offered a critique of it by Kevin Drum of the liberal "Washington Monthly." Observed Harshaw: "It’s a good point, but I suspect some will feel Mr. Drum shows a bit too much pleasure in making it."
Pollster.com is anything but a GOP front. Head honcho Mark Blumenthal logged 20 years as a Dem consultant, and Franklin is a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, hardly a hotbed of pro-Republican activism. Judging from this bio, Franklin is a highly-respected polling expert, not a partisan. He is is the past president of the Society for Political Methodology, and works as an ABC election-night consultant.
Perhaps most notable is Franklin's finding that the best efforts of the Dems -- abetted by their MSM allies -- to persuade Americans that the war is a disaster failed. There's a long way to go from now till election day. But couple this news with yesterday's report that our forces have completely rid Baghdad of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.
Do we detect the sound of Hillary's flip . . . flopping?