Greenberg survey bad news for Democrats on security and terror issues

Greenberg also writes that the Democrats had caught up with the GOP on national security, but events over the past year (i.e. the return of Dick and Liz Cheney) have changed that temporary formulation:

Last May, Democracy Corps found Democrats essentially tied with Republicans (41 to 43 percent) on the question of which party would do a better job on national security.

But now the gap shows signs of re-opening, with Democrats trailing by 17 points, 33 to 50 percent on which party likely voters think would do the better job on national security. The erosion since May is especially strong among women, and among independents, who now favor Republicans on this question by a 56 to 20 percent margin.

Speaking of Dick and Liz Cheney, there is a must read in the current New York magazine that's mostly about Liz Cheney, and her potential for running for higher office written by Joe Hagan.

Back to the Greenberg report, he writes "Progressives can and must push back aggressively against this narrative. The survey tests several ways to frame this argument, and it highlights what works and what does not" -  Here's what he says the Dems need to do:

Stress Toughness and Results

  • Fighting Terrorism: Obama has stepped up the fight and, using Predator plane attacks and Special Forces, we have captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda and their allies since Obama took office

  • Interrogation of Terrorists: Proven FBI interrogation techniques got the Christmas bomber to provide actionable intelligence that reportedly already led to overseas arrests of at least ten terrorists.

  • Detention of Terrorists: In those cases sent to the civilian courts, there is an effective process for bringing terrorists to swift justice, including more than 300 terrorists currently held in federal supermax prisons. No one has ever escaped from a supermax.

Avoid Comparisons

  • Bush and Richard Reid: Voters resist the argument that the Obama administration simply handled the Christmas bomber in the same way the Bush administration handled the “shoe bomber” case; this sounds political, and produces a weak response.

  • Civilian vs. Military Trials: Similarly, progressives should not make this a question of whether to use “civilian” versus military procedures; the public tends to be drawn to “military.” Each may have their place; but this is about getting results.

Of course, the administration is getting killed p.r.wise by the idea of charging Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City.  Still no word on where that trial may be moved to.

Stan Greenberg is Bill Clinton's former pollster.  He's partners with famed celebrity political strategist James Carville in Democracy Corps.  On Monday night, the group released a survey called, The Politics of National Security, A Wake Up Call.

The report has plenty of depressing news for Democrats when it comes to an issue in which they traditionally have finished behind the Republican Party - national security.  But what about Barack Obama coming in and restoring the U.S.'s tattered image overseas, damaged by Gitmo and Abu Grhaib and no WMD?  Greenberg blames some of that on how horrible the economy remains:

Even though voters are about evenly split on whether the country is more or less safe today, a 51 to 41 percent majority says the U.S. is less respected in the world than two years ago. This is surprising, given the global acclaim – and Nobel peace prize – that flowed to the new president after he took office. Yet a regression analysis shows that this sentiment is driven even more strongly by perceptions of Obama’s performance on the economy – and America’s relative economic weakness – than by his handling of security issues.

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