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Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.

Responses to opinion polls appear to be at odds with public policy and campaign rhetoric in the US. Could it be that the public opinion that is not manufactured simply does not matter?

Truthout reports that the US public when asked in opinion polling gives majority responses that are off the political register. Lawrence S. Wittner reports:

In a World Public Opinion poll of sixteen nations in 2009, 69 percent of Americans supported the view that nations are obliged to abide by international law even when doing so is at odds with their national interest. Furthermore, a 2010 poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 82 percent of Americans favored ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (rejected by the GOP-dominated Senate in 1999), 70 percent favored participation in the International Criminal Court (rejected by President George W. Bush), and 67 percent backed a new international treaty to combat climate change. In December 2008, a World Public Opinion poll found that 77 percent of Americans backed an international treaty abolishing nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, most Americans favor expanding the role of the United Nations in world affairs. Polling in 2010 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that majorities of Americans favored creating a standing UN peacekeeping force (64 percent), giving the United Nations the authority to enter countries to investigate human rights violations (72 percent), creating an international marshals service with the power to arrest leaders responsible for genocide (73 percent), and empowering the United Nations to regulate the international arms trade (55 percent).

Overall, as public opinion studies show, Americans want a smaller—rather than a larger—global footprint for their nation. According to a 2010 poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, only 8 percent favored the United States playing the role of the preeminent world leader, while 71 percent favored a cooperative approach. Gallup polls have turned up similar results. In 2011, Gallup reported that only 16 percent of Americans endorsed the option of the United States playing “the leading role” in world affairs. According to Gallup, 32 percent of Americans favored “a minor role” or “no role” at all for the United States, while 50 percent wanted the United States to “take a major role, but not the leading one.”

“It’s the media. . .” Justin Lewis deconstructs the mediation of public polling and political leadership (2006):


The Republican Primary in South Carolina won by Gringrich with 40.4% of the votes cast is not relevant, even the turnout given rain at 22% of the total number of registered voters was good. By that measure Grinrich overwhelming level of support, compared to Romney’s 27.8%, represents 9% of South Carolina’s potential voters. Of course the percentage of the voters who cast ballots has no effect on the electoral outcomes and suppressing the vote is an effective political tactic in the general election.



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