Via Jonathan Martin, a leftover from that tasty NYT/CBS poll that Ed blogged yesterday. I joked on Twitter that the number in the headline above should about wrap things up for the Rand Paul 2016 campaign. Not true, of course, especially if O’s Syria adventure turns sour.
But the trends aren’t in Rand’s favor. At least in the primaries.
Seven months ago, the public supported the idea that the U.S. shouldn’t take the lead in international affairs by 34 points. Today it’s 12 points, not far from where things stood a year after 9/11. Meanwhile:
That’s a more modest swing, obviously, but the fact that a plurality now regrets total withdrawal from Iraq seems … newsy. The Times doesn’t provide crosstabs for those numbers but since it’s Republicans who’ve been trending the most sharply hawkish lately, I’m going to guess that GOP movement is driving the movement in the numbers overall. Democrats would, I assume, be especially unlikely to flip on the question of whether troops should have stayed in Iraq given that withdrawal was one of Hopenchange’s big planks.
What about ground troops? Surely eight long hard years in Iraq have secured durable public opposition to sending infantry back in, no? Well, yes…
…but not among one very important group:
“Ground troops” can mean a lot of things, obviously. There may be 62 percent support for small special ops raids on ISIS bigwigs but, I’m guessing, probably not 62 percent support for a force of 50,000 Americans. But even so: Yowza. The numbers among indies are sufficiently gruesome that Rand doesn’t need to worry about super-hawks like Rubio calling for ground troops at the primary debates, but the fact that you’ve got this many Republicans feeling this hawkish this early puts Paul in a bind. I assume he’d like to move no further towards interventionism than he already has lest he sacrifice swaths of his dad’s supporters, but maybe he has no choice. Rubio and Cruz are going to pound him mercilessly as being dangerously weak. Can he turn hawkish enough to blunt those attacks without totally alienating libertarians?