Swinging on the Exit Strategy

Candidates differ greatly on when to leave Iraq

as expected, these Republicans, along with independents, are in a position to change the course of the race in states that could swing for or against McCain or Obama.

“Among liberal to moderate Republicans…I think that any of them who vote for Obama probably would have chosen him anyway,” Ottenhoff says. “These Republicans in places like Fairfield County, Connecticut, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and Fairfax County, Virginia. have been drifting away from the GOP for a long time. The war may have sparked, if not accelerated, their cooling to the Republican Party, but that trend has been set in motion for quite some time now.”

According to the Rasmussen Website, polls indicate that McCain’s support for the Iraq invasion is one of voters’ chief problems with the senator. That Obama opposed the war early and consistently is an ace in the Illinois senator’s pocket.

McCain continues to focus on winning the war and is in support of Bush’s current plan, which involves sending surges of soldiers back into Iraq. Obama’s concern is to reduce U.S. liabilities in Iraq by withdrawing brigades one at a time.

Rasmussen polls also show that 35% believe it is very or somewhat likely that McCain as president would have American soldiers out of Iraq by the end of his first term, but 60% believe Obama would bring them home in that timeframe.

“Also research indicates that many voters understand that this will have to be a phased exit, but they at least want a strategy in place to ensure some sort of transition in the exit that will allow for the troops to return,” Lee says.

Faculty at the University of Chicago’s department of political science published a paper which focused on the change in President Bush’s 2004 showing compared with 2000. They suggest that the number of Iraq war casualties from a state significantly depressed the president’s vote in 2004, and that Bush could have won 2% more of the popular vote. Estimates from one predictive model in the study report that had there not been a war, Bush would have beat Democrat John Kerry by a higher margin and he would have picked up a couple of key swing states, including New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

When examining war casualties per capita, Oregon, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Pennsylvania are ranked 11th, 12th, 17th and 26th, respectively, of the 50 states. “A November 2007 Strategic Vision poll found that a majority (53%) of Iowa Republicans wanted to get out of Iraq. That survey was a shock to a lot of people and was sort of the first time that people realized that unpopularity of the war had reached a tipping point,” Ottenhoff says.

In Colorado, a state that went Republican in 2004, 54% of voters say that bringing military personnel home from Iraq is more important that winning the war (39%), reports Rasmussen’s Website.

Nevertheless, polls show that McCain has an advantage in Pennsylvania (49% to 43%), Ohio (51% to 37%) and Florida (52% to 42%), three swing states whose support has

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