Colo poll: McCain man for Iraq |

Colo poll: McCain man for Iraq

Burt Hubbard
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

COLORADO ” Only one-third of Coloradans still believe in the Iraq war, but half think Republican John McCain is the best man to deal with it as president of the U.S., according to a Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 News poll.

Just ask Joyce Anderson.

She said she believes President George Bush started an ill-advised war to show he was as tough as his father. But now that the U.S. is mired in Iraq, the Delta resident said she thinks McCain has a better approach to the war than Democrat Barack Obama.

“I think he has a better idea of what it’s all about,” Anderson said. “Exactly what it’s going to take to finish it and get out of there.”

The poll found that 40 percent of Colorado residents have always believed the war was wrong, compared with 33 percent who have always maintained it was the right decision.

Another 24 percent believed in the war initially but now don’t or are unsure, the poll found.

They include Susan Pettibone of suburban Denver, who initially thought the war was justified to help a country repressed by its own government.

“But the fact is it wasn’t thought out well,” Pettibone said. “I’m always in favor of helping other countries when they want it. It seems like they don’t want it.”

The poll of 500 registered voters was taken Aug. 11-13 by Public Opinion Strategies and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

Public Opinion Strategies generally polls for Republican candidates. RBI Strategies, a firm that generally works with Democratic candidates, consulted on the creation of the questionnaire and its analysis.

The voter sentiment on the war has changed little in the past three years, said Craig Hughes, research director for RBI.

“I think people’s views of the war are pretty calcified,” Hughes said. “People aren’t seeing things that will fundamentally change whether they think it’s a good idea or a bad idea.”

But it’s still an important campaign issue in the race for the presidency, second only to the economy in Colorado voters’ minds and ahead of the price of gasoline, the poll found.

Overall, respondents think McCain, the former prisoner of war in Vietnam, has the better position on Iraq than Obama by 50 percent to 39 percent, the poll found.

“Voters give McCain a little bit more credibility on Iraq because of his service,” Hughes said. “Even if they believe the war was a mistake, McCain’s history and biography gives him a bit more credibility on that issue.”

However, among the smaller group of those polled who cited the war as their top issue, Obama is the clear favorite by 56 percent to 29 percent.

“The people most focused on the war on Iraq tend to side with Obama,” said Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies.

However, neither Hughes nor Weigel believe McCain or Obama are going to change many voters’ minds on the war. “Voters know where these candidates stand on Iraq,” Weigel said.

There is both a gender and political party gap in opposition to the war. Among women polled, 45 percent have always opposed intervention in Iraq compared with 35 percent of men.

Seventy-one percent of Democrats are against the war compared with 12 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents.

For Jim McGinley of Akron, his support of the war and its importance as an issue is simple.

“Somebody getting shot at,” he said, “is the most important thing.”

Support Local Journalism