Pew poll: Public support for torture at five-year high

posted at 5:38 pm on December 4, 2009 by Allahpundit

In case you’re wondering who won the de facto debate between Obama and Cheney earlier this year, wonder no more:

torture

Often/sometimes is up 10 points since Obama became president and five points since he and Cheney started tangling over this, with support at a clear majority for the first time since Pew began polling it. Surely this must reflect a sharp Cheney-provoked surge in angry wingnuttery among the angry wingnut base, no? Why … no:

torture2

Republicans are +2 since Obama was sworn in, independents are +9, and Democrats are +18. Perhaps the new numbers reflect momentary jitters among the population about KSM being tried in civilian court? Nope: Obama announced that decision on November 13, five days after Pew finished conducting this poll.

So what gives? Maybe this:

tough

GOPers are +5 since June while indies are +8 and Democrats once again reach double digits. No way to tell whether it’s the dithering over Afghanistan that’s driving it (probably) or the endless ballet with Iran over its nuke program, but there may be something else at work. Just as having an ardent pro-choicer in office has swelled the ranks of pro-lifers, foreign-policy fencesitters may be sufficiently worried about The One’s dovishness that they’re pushing back by coming down in favor of torture. That certainly would jibe with the “toughness” results.

All of this comes from Pew’s omnibus poll on foreign policy, incidentally, which is worth skimming for some surprising results. Here’s another one that caught me off guard, but is probably explained by the same logic of the last paragraph:

isr

More support for Israel now than in Bush’s last few years in office? I thought the left told us last year’s election was a mandate for The One to follow his bleeding heart’s desire. Another goodie:

paul

This one worries me, even though (a) it too can be explained as a backlash to Obama’s aggressive multilateralism and (b) this question is largely a function, I think, of war-weariness (note the steady Vietnam-era decline). For the first time in 45 years, a plurality favors disengagement/isolationism? Way to give the Paulnuts a boost, Barry Dubya.

Update: Actually, I’m probably looking at that last graph as a glass that’s half empty. After six years in Iraq and eight years in Afghanistan, with another surge looming when the poll was taken, isolationists still can’t command a clear majority?


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Great post.

Just as having an ardent pro-choicer in office has swelled the ranks of pro-lifers

I also think ultrasound is changing a lot of people’s perspectives on the issue.

John the Libertarian on December 4, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Hasan’s affect on public opinion given the Holder judicial approach topped off with Obama sending our troops to Afghanistan to languish under the Karzai 12 Rules of non-engagement.

Obama’s torturing America.

Abolish PC Torture

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Does this mean we can now waterboard all Senators that claim the health care bill will be deficit neutral?

Rovin on December 4, 2009 at 5:44 PM

If they perform the same procedures on US Special Forces members, for educational purposes, is it really torture? I don’t think so. Is it panic inducing? Yes, but so is having your mother-in-law accidentally walk in on you while you’re having sex (hopefully with your wife.)

RBMN on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Can we torture Al Gore until he confesses to his global warming hoax?

JammieWearingFool on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

/Sonograms have been around about as long as Roe v Wade.

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

I just love the way they word that. Public support of torture up, but still trails public support of beating your cheating husband with a golf club. It’s funny abortion is choice, and not killing babies. Illegals are undocumented immigrants, and not illegal aliens, but torture is TORTURE and not interrogation, or enhanced interrogation.

DFCtomm on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

RBMN on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM
bwhahahaha

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:46 PM

I doubt there is a common interpretation of the “mind our own business” question. I may consider fighting in Afghanistan, minding our own business. I may consider patrolling the oceans of the world, minding our own business.

WashJeff on December 4, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Hope’n'change.

the_nile on December 4, 2009 at 5:47 PM

DFCtomm on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM
You got it all.

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Can we torture Al Gore until he confesses to his global warming hoax?

JammieWearingFool on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

By installing CFLs in EVERY room of his houes!

WashJeff on December 4, 2009 at 5:48 PM

the squishy middle is beginning to realize that the media has been less than truthful for the past 10 years. Their ‘hard right’ friends are being proven correct more often, and the mask of an ‘unbiased’ media has fallen off…

phreshone on December 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM

Not tough enough? Surprise… Now Obama’s going to Copenhagen later along with other leaders, because there’s allegedly a chance of an agreement / phto op. Sarkozy reprimanded him publicly for his original timing so add him to the list of leaders who has Obama’s number.

Drained Brain on December 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM

Just curious, what is the PEW definition of “torture”?

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Just curious, what is the PEW definition of “torture”?

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Probably ‘serving green jello more than once a month’.

AUINSC on December 4, 2009 at 5:53 PM

In case you’re wondering who won the de facto debate between Obama and Cheney earlier this year, wonder no more:

The force is indeed strong with Darth Cheney.

Thankfully.

red winger on December 4, 2009 at 5:55 PM

Can we torture Al Gore until he confesses to his global warming hoax?

JammieWearingFool on December 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Unemployed Americans camp outside his Tennessee mansion until he officially denounces his false-science and economic/power scheme. Abolish his carbon tax credits and rescind tax funds from global warming “scientific” research and production, and get the Alaskan natural gas-line built and our borders protected. That would torture Gore the Global Governor.

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Gore, President of the World
How the mighty have fallen.

maverick muse on December 4, 2009 at 5:59 PM

To me, the poll results on torture are misleading. Assuming the sample size was adequate and properly sourced, the results should read out 70 percent in favor of torture and 25 opposed.

After all, aren’t those who answer “rarely” in fact agreeing torture should be used in some cases? And isn’t that what most of us would agree with?

Chad_ on December 4, 2009 at 6:01 PM

OT: break-in at Blago’s attorney’s office last night. Computer stolen from the office. What a state IL is.

WashJeff on December 4, 2009 at 6:01 PM

the squishy middle is beginning to realize that the media has been less than truthful for the past 10 years. Their ‘hard right’ friends are being proven correct more often, and the mask of an ‘unbiased’ media has fallen off…

phreshone on December 4, 2009 at 5:49 PM

I hope like hell you are right, it’s about time!

Tim Zank on December 4, 2009 at 6:02 PM

Public support for torture at five-year high

Support for torture has probably gone up because more and more people are mad as hell about what Obama is doing to the country and want to take it out on somebody.

MB4 on December 4, 2009 at 6:03 PM

The force is indeed strong with Darth Cheney.

Thankfully.

red winger on December 4, 2009 at 5:55 PM

One more heart attack and we may have to put him in an encounter suit with built in life support. I think we could probably get them to throw in the helmet and breathing sound effects for free, but those light sabers and force powers are tough. Although, I think Chaney might have a natural talent for the force choke.

DFCtomm on December 4, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Who are the 3% who think that Bury’s too tough?

thomasaur on December 4, 2009 at 6:07 PM

How do you explain it? Simple, it’s the American people seeing what all of Barry’s “Smart Diplomacy” has brought us.

Even the Hondurans are telling Barry to “Go Get Phucked”.

GarandFan on December 4, 2009 at 6:10 PM

WashJeff on December 4, 2009 at 6:01 PM

What a state indeed. Used to live there, got out as fast as possible.

rukiddingme on December 4, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Related parody: Obama Creates Information Hotline to Ease Nerves of Interrogation Service Customers http://optoons.blogspot.com/2009/04/obama-creates-information-hotline-for.html

Mervis Winter on December 4, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Way to give the Paulnuts a boost, Barry Dubya.

I don’t think it is a nod to the Paulnuts, or even war weariness, but I do think that more and more people are tired of the UN and tired of trying to bring peace between enemies like Israel and the Palestinians. I think Americans will support Israel, but they are beginning to think this conflict is virtually insoluble.

Terrye on December 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Boot’em & shoot’em.. rack’em & stack’em, board’em & sort ‘em.

Honey….I’m home!

Itchee Dryback on December 4, 2009 at 6:18 PM

“Waterboarding” ISN’T “TORTURE”!!!

There is no physical pain.
There are no broken bones.
There is no tissue damage.
There are no lacerations.
There are no burns.
There is no bleeding.
There is no blood loss.
There is no permanent physical damage.

Does it SCARE the bejeezus out of the “waterboardee”??

You bet it does.

If you want to find out what TORTURE really is, read the Al Quaida instruction manual US troops discovered when they raided a safe house.

KSM and his pig colleagues WERE NOT TORTURED!

Simpletons and libs think anything other than a “stern talking to” or “time-out” is “TORTURE”.

Deranged islamic psychopaths that behead and stone people to death are laughing at you idiots.

bannedbyhuffpo on December 4, 2009 at 6:20 PM

Well, what do you call what the people in those towers got when the towers collapsed? Whatever it takes people. Whatever it takes. beat their a&&es

johnnyU on December 4, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Why don’t they just poll on whether or not people support “stuff?” It would be the ultimate in meaningless undefined opinion measurement.

Ronnie on December 4, 2009 at 6:26 PM

DFCtomm on December 4, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Hahahaha.

Well, whatever it takes, we cannot spare this man. He fights. As does his daughter.

They do not hold their punches — precisely what we need when it comes to a cause as essential as keeping this nation safe.

red winger on December 4, 2009 at 6:26 PM

What the North Vietnamese did to our POWs like Jim Stockdale or Bill Lawrence (and yes, John McCain) was torture…

What the Japanese did to WWII POWs (especially Chinese) was torture… See “Rape of Nanking” or “Bataan Death March” or “Death Railway” in Thailand for all you uninformed trolls…

Waterboarding is NOT torture…

Khun Joe on December 4, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Who are the 3% who think that Bury’s too tough?

thomasaur on December 4, 2009 at 6:07 PM

People who think he should stop introducing his wife to foreign leaders.

Ronnie on December 4, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Just curious, what is the PEW definition of “torture”?

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Probably ’serving green jello more than once a month’.

AUINSC on December 4, 2009 at 5:53 PM

LOL, I love that stuff.

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Khun Joe on December 4, 2009 at 6:29 PM

One of McCain’s fellow residents at the Hanoi Hilton just left us-Col. Jack Pitchford.

http://bbedit.sx.atl.publicus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091204/NEWS05/912040360/1010&nav_category=NEWS05

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 6:34 PM

I think people are getting used to the thought of being tortured. Obama tortures the American people on a daily basis.

milwife88 on December 4, 2009 at 6:43 PM

More interesting results from this poll…

The public expresses mixed views of Barack Obama’s foreign policy performance so far. More approve than disapprove of his handling of terrorist threats and global climate change, but the balance of public opinion is negative when it comes to his handling of immigration policy, Afghanistan, Iraq and his decision to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. The public is divided evenly in its assessments of how Obama has dealt with Iran and China, as well as his handling of international trade issues.

When George W. Bush was president, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to believe that terrorists had a greater ability to strike the U.S. This partisan gap changed following Barack Obama’s inauguration this January. In February, just 7% of Democrats felt the U.S. was at greater risk than on 9/11, down from 21% one year earlier. Meanwhile the share of Republicans who saw the U.S. at greater risk rose from 10% in 2008 to 32% after Obama’s inauguration.

Democratic concerns have resurfaced over the course of the year, however. This fall, 27% of Democrats believe the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack is greater today than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, a 20-point increase since February. Roughly a third of Republicans (34%) share this view.

BTW the poll sample was

564 Republicans
657 Democrats
623 Republicans

So, once again the Republicans were under-sampled, so tack on a few extra points.

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 6:44 PM

I forgot to add…..But Not For Long.

milwife88 on December 4, 2009 at 6:44 PM

The mind our own business number is good, but the Israel number doesn’t fit with that.

Supporting either Israel or Palestine is incompatible with a more conservative foreign policy, so it’s distressing that people say they want non-interventionism but also want to support one of the sides over there.

The torture number is bad news as well, but there is relentless propaganda on behalf of the sadists so that is no surprise unfortunately.

The Dean on December 4, 2009 at 6:57 PM

Supporting either Israel or Palestine is incompatible with a more conservative foreign policy, so it’s distressing that people say they want non-interventionism but also want to support one of the sides over there.

The Dean on December 4, 2009 at 6:57 PM

What could possibly be conservative about the isolationist policy you describe above. With all due respect, I think you are confusing terms.

anuts on December 4, 2009 at 7:10 PM

As long as they aren’t an American citizen, do whatever you need to do them to get the info you need to save American lives.

KSgop on December 4, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Supporting either Israel or Palestine is incompatible with a more conservative foreign policy, so it’s distressing that people say they want non-interventionism but also want to support one of the sides over there.

The Dean on December 4, 2009 at 6:57 PM

I think you have to realize the average person doesn’t readily recognize the difference between support, and sympathize. I sympathize with Israel, but my support is mostly limited to getting the U.S. out of her way so she can defend herself.

DFCtomm on December 4, 2009 at 7:30 PM

Amazing that reminding people of what having a weak president is like changes public opinion.

echosyst on December 4, 2009 at 8:03 PM

Update: Actually, I’m probably looking at that last graph as a glass that’s half empty. After six years in Iraq and eight years in Afghanistan, with another surge looming when the poll was taken, isolationists still can’t command a clear majority?

Maybe Americans think the U.S. should mind its own business and let the rest of the world get on the best they can because they’re tired of the lack of gratitude from the anti-Americanism on the receiving end of our largess. And they’re probably sick to death of the Eurotrash academic “elites” who Barry kowtows to and admires.

Buy Danish on December 4, 2009 at 9:03 PM

After six years in Iraq and eight years in Afghanistan, with another surge looming when the poll was taken, isolationists still can’t command a clear majority?

Probably because there aren’t as many of these people as you might think there are from being surrounded with pop culture.

They’re a small, vocal minority. An in our media culture, the loudest moron gets the media attention.

Good Lt on December 4, 2009 at 9:13 PM

please someone torture Bella Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Harry Reid.

Ricki on December 4, 2009 at 9:31 PM

A fairly encouraging thread AP, thanks for breaking it down for us.

thinkagain on December 4, 2009 at 9:50 PM

The torture number is bad news as well, but there is relentless propaganda on behalf of the sadists so that is no surprise unfortunately.

The Dean on December 4, 2009 at 6:57 PM

(shakes head sadly)

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Liberals love to say \”we all should live by the RULE OF LAW when IT DOESN\’T PERSONALLY APPLY TO THEM. Now, thanks to them we have two sets of rules.1 A heathen, murderous enemy who plays by no rules at all.2 American Armed Forces (almost exclusively Army and Marines) who not only fight with one hand tied behind their back but BOTH hands tied behind their backs and blindfolded as well. All this while one of the architects of making it easy to slaughter American soldiers, Nancy Pelosi, jets back to gay-loving and military hating San Fairycisco on military aircraft. What irony!In an Obama-Holder White House where \”rule of law\” does NOT apply to liberals or Muslim terrorists-only to US servicemen-the only way to survive is to break the law and, under certain circumstances, torture is a device that cannot only save you but gather information as well.

MaiDee on December 4, 2009 at 10:49 PM

BTW the poll sample was

564 Republicans
657 Democrats
623 Republicans Independents

So, once again the Republicans were under-sampled, so tack on a few extra points.

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 6:44 PM

My bad

Del Dolemonte on December 4, 2009 at 11:42 PM

I support torturing 95% of the politicians.

Libertarian Joseph on December 5, 2009 at 10:37 AM

War-weariness! Those words concerning Americans sickens me, especially now with no damn draft. I left college in 1965 to earn money to return and guess what, I was drafted. Even during the Vietnam War those war weary words had little meaning to me. My son graduated from college and joined the Army. Note the difference. I am proud of him, but I am not war weary and why should I or any other American who has not had to sacrifice or their family sacrifice in any way for this war on terror be war weary. When we see daily IED explosions on I-95 and suicide bombings of restaurants and government buildings as in Israel, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, then we can say we are war weary.

amr on December 5, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Yeah, and it was torture for the Hansons on Flight 175 when they knew their little girl Christine was going to die with them as they headed towards the South Tower.

And all those other people minding their business went through the same sickening fear.

F— these terrorists and all those who feel sympathy for them.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 5, 2009 at 4:51 PM

This number will skyrocket come january when the world sees Jack Bauer say “you’re lucky I’m not employed anymore” and then he tortures the hell outta someone.

Rbastid on December 6, 2009 at 1:38 AM