A Stark Choice

Data reported yesterday by Rasmussen Reports suggest that Americans know we are more likely to succeed in Iraq if John McCain is President, but they may not care.

By 49% to 42%, respondents say it is “likely is it that the U.S. would win the War in Iraq if McCain is elected president.” Conversely, only 20% think that if Obama is elected, we are likely to succeed. There’s a campaign theme for you: a vote for Obama is a vote for failure!

The other question posed by Rasmussen was how likely respondents think it is that “virtually all” troops will be home in four years. 43% say that is likely if McCain is President, 59% if Obama wins.

The catch is that more people care about getting the troops home than winning. By a 52% to 39% margin, “get[ting] the troops home from Iraq within four years” is identified as a “higher priority” than “win[ning] the War.”

These data are mixed, to say the least, but they may suggest an opportunity for McCain. Most Americans have figured out that if they want to prevail in Iraq, McCain is their man. As voters learn more about Obama, that sentiment is likely to grow. Rasmussen’s data suggest that if McCain can convince voters that success is not only possible but more nearly at hand than they think, the Iraq issue can be a winner for him. In fact, at the rate conditions are improving in Iraq, it is reasonable to expect that our troops will be more or less entirely out of combat roles, and most of them will come home, in far less than four years. If more voters get that message, it may become hard to explain why they should vote for the candidate whose election means failure.

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