Tales from the Trail

Another poll comes out in favor of gays in the military

As Congress mulls “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a new poll finds support for repealing it.

A CNN poll showed that 78 percent, or nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. MILITARY-GAYS/

The results of the survey of 1,023 adults, conducted May 21-23, were similar to earlier polls — 81 percent in Dec. 19-21, 2008 and 79 percent in May 4-6, 2007.

“Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military,” Keating Holland, CNN polling director, said on its website. “There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups.”

A Gallup analysis this month found “broad, steady support” for openly gay members of the military. Gallup’s last poll on the issue, conducted May 3-6, showed 70 percent in favor.

The First Draft: Talk shows help drive Palin’s popularity

If Sarah Palin were elected president of the United States, would conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck wind up in her cabinet?

That’s a toughie. But Palin already tops the list of Republican Party favorites and that fact is due in part to her popularity with Limbaugh’s and Beck’s audiences, according to a Washington Post poll.
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Seventeen percent of Republicans, including 23 percent of Republican women, say they would vote for Palin if their party’s 2012 state primary election or caucus were held today.

She out-guns Mike Huckabee who got 10 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney at 9 percent and John McCain with only 7.

The First Draft: Poll shows growing U.S. support for Afghan troop increase

If President Barack Obama opts to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan next week, the decision could be underscored by something a bit unusual for his policies: growing U.S. public support. 
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Polling data have shown for a while now that most Americans don’t favor many of Obama’s policy positions, despite his enduring personal popularity.
    
A USA Today/Gallup poll depicts Obama battling headwinds on a number of fronts: Americans oppose the closing of Gitmo by more than a 2-to-1 margin; those against healthcare reform edge out those in favor by 5 percentage points; and most don’t want accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in civilian court in New York City.
    
Afghanistan is no cakewalk, either. Public opinion is divided over the question of more troops and 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the war up to now — a reversal of his 56 percent approval rating four months ago. CANADA/
    
But the polling data, compiled Nov. 20-22, might also suggest a silver lining for the president as he nears an announcement that could send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
    
Less than half of Americans — 47 percent — favor a troop increase. But that’s up from 42 percent in a Nov. 5-8 survey.
    
Plus, the opposition is down: 39 percent of Americans now want the president to reduce the U.S. military footprint, vs. 44 percent earlier.
    
What hasn’t changed for Obama is that Republicans, not fellow Democrats, are his best buddies when it comes to increasing troops. Seventy-two percent of Republicans back a bigger U.S. force in Afghanistan, while 57 percent of Democrats say it’s time to start pulling out. USA-ELECTION/    

That could be important for Obama’s agenda in Congress as the 2010 election approaches and Democratic incumbents in tight races consider how they might fare with Democratic voters.

The USA Today/Gallup findings are based on telephone interviews with 1,017 adults. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

The First Draft: What if Congress turned Republican on Obama?

A Republican-controlled Congress could be a real possibility for the second half of President Barack Obama’s four-year term, according to the latest Gallup poll.
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The poll of 894 registered voters suggests Republicans would win the U.S. House of Representatives by 48 percent to 44 percent if the 2010 congressional election were held today.

The Republican lead is well within the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error. But the results indicate that Republicans might have some momentum after gaining steadily on Democrats since July.

People who participated in the survey were asked only about their local House districts, so the results mean little for that other congressional chamber, the U.S. Senate. US POLITICS

The First Draft: $829 billion — and that’s the good news

KOREA/You’ve no doubt heard the old saying about money and Washington: a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. That seems to be the case for fixing U.S. healthcare.

President Barack Obama got some good news from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office yesterday, which estimated that a healthcare plan by the Senate Finance Committee would cost $829 billion. CBO said this plan would cut the budget deficit by $81 billion over 10 years.

There was good news this morning too, as the Labor Department reported new unemployment claims at a nine-month low.

Everything old is new again

Some things never change. Take, for instance, the fact that a president does not make decisions based upon the polls.

Polling seems to be a flourishing business. Pollsters survey us on just about anything. Click on the Pew Research Center’s website  and you’ll find polls on such issues as our views on torture and warrantless wiretapping, or President Barack Obama’s skills as a communicator.

George W. Bush said over and over again he did not make decisions based on polls. So we wanted to point out that Obama borrowed some of Bush’s phraseology in talking about polls with interviewer Jim Lehrer of PBS’ “Newshour.”

New state polls show shift towards Obama

rtx93zk.jpgWASHINGTON – A slew of new state polls released on Wednesday showed some shift in momentum toward Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and away from Republican rival John McCain.

CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. released polls for five battleground states — Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia — that showed Obama ahead among likely voters in all of them, though still within the margin of error in four.

Obama held a 51 percent to 47 percent lead in both Florida and Nevada, a 53 percent to 44 percent lead in Virginia, a 54 percent to 43 percent advantage in Minnesota and a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent edge in Missouri.