Weeks ago, Sen. Edward Kennedy proclaimed the war in Iraq "another Vietnam." Whether Kennedy's statement was a dispassionate assessment of the situation, or a trial balloon for the Democrats' big theme this election season, our most recent InsiderAdvantage survey indicates that most Americans are not yet persuaded that Kennedy is correct.
Our April survey of voters asked:
"Do you agree or disagree with the statement 'Iraq is becoming another Vietnam'?"
Agree: 38 percent
Disagree: 57 percent
Undecided/Don't know: 5 percent
The poll was conducted with our associates, The Marketing Workshop, on April 12 and 14. It sampled 500 voters nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
While the continued chaos and loss of American lives in Iraq may lend itself to comparisons with the once seemingly endless loss of life in Vietnam, the InsiderAdvantage poll clearly shows that those who identify themselves as Democrats strongly agree the Iraqi conflict has reached a level where it can be compared with the truly divisive and controversial Vietnam War. Not only do Republicans strongly disagree with statement, but so too do those identifying themselves as independent voters. And those who describe themselves as "moderates" in their political philosophy joined conservatives in rejecting the notion as well. Even 37 percent of those who call themselves "liberal" disagreed with the statement.
So if Iraq is no Vietnam, where will the issue take Democrats and their presumptive nominee, Sen. John Kerry? Once again, the answer to that question can be found, at least in part, in the degree to which the Democratic rhetoric and media reports can highlight the war's direction.
For example, just last week, pictures not cleared by the government for release showed a military cargo plane filled with flag-draped caskets, one after another. The image was a powerful reminder the losses from the war are starting to mount. And with each new attack on troops or civilians in Iraq, there are new statements from Kerry questioning the president's handling of the war, and protests from others arguing the United States should never have pushed for a regime change in that country.