Democracy Arsenal

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February 13, 2008

The Democracy Arsenal Stat of the Day
Posted by Michael Cohen

A few years ago my best friend and I, Lamar Robertson, created the unofficial Stat of the Day -- an e-mail exchange that would highlight some fascinating and illuminating statistic that we'd come across. Now I should say that 99.9% of those stats involved baseball, but I believe the SOTD is transferable to the world of politics and international affairs. So here begins a new feature at DA - the Democracy Arsenal Stat of the Day.

Today's stat - 61%.

As in 61% Wisconsin voters, would like to see America withdraw all troops from Iraq in the next six months. These numbers mirror national poll results, but it's important to remember that Wisconsin is one of those all important swing states. Indeed, John Kerry won there in 2004 by a mere 11,000 votes.

It's numbers like these that dramatize the enormous challenges facing both John McCain and the eventual Democratic nominee.  In the case of McCain, these results provide compelling evidence of his greatest vulnerability going into a general election - he's on the wrong side of the war. Mind you, he's not kind of, sort of on the wrong side, but he's decisively out of step with the American people. Once Wisconsin voters and others begin to see more video like this and this . . . well let's just say I don't think his poll numbers are going to improve.

But these results also dramatize the challenges facing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We're not going to be out of Iraq in six months after either of them takes office. Indeed, as David Brooks noted yesterday, "Both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have seductively hinted that they would withdraw almost all U.S. troops within 12 to 16 months. But if either of them actually did that, he or she would instantly make Iraq the consuming partisan fight of their presidency."

If either Clinton or Obama wins on a platform of getting the troops out quickly they are walking into a minefield - either energizing GOP partisans who will accuse them of cutting and running or disappointing liberal Democrats who want us to leave Iraq ASAP. How are those 61% of Wisconsin voters going to feel if a newly-elected Democrat is forced to drag their feet on withdrawal for either political or strategic reasons?

George Bush's War in Iraq - the gift that keeps on giving.


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