As South Korea and North Korea meet for the first time in years, and as the world convenes the Winter Olympics in South Korea, after a year of nuclear testing and ICBM launches by North Korea, most Americans have a false sense of security. At the end of last year SecureAmericaNow.org asked some very important questions in our national poll of 1,000 likely 2018 voters.
The first question stated simply: "If North Korea or Iran were to launch a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile at the United States or our allies, do you think that we currently have a missile defense system in place that we could intercept and shoot that missile down?" The majority of all voters, 57 percent, think we can shoot the incoming nuclear missile down and only 16 percent said no. Another 27 percent were unsure.
However, often in voter opinion polling perception is not the reality. According to former Assistant Secretary of State Christian Whiton: "Most Americans think we can reliably shoot down an ICBM coming from a place like North Korea or Iran and they are wrong. Everything would have to go right for our limited missile defenses to succeed, and if you look at attacks like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, almost never does everything go right. Some in our military have oversold our current capabilities, as have the high priests of arms control who hate the idea of comprehensive missile defenses, including crucial space-based defenses. We need to fulfill Ronald Reagan's original vision of being able to defend the American people, rather than just avenging them after a successful nuclear attack on the United States."
On July 5, Politico.com ran a story: "U.S. missile shield not yet ready for North Korean nukes" which said, "Most current and former military officials and other experts argue that the chances of protecting U.S. territory from a surprise or short-notice ICBM attack would be slim at best."
On November 16, about the exact time we conducted our poll, The New York Times ran a story, "Downing North Korean Missiles Is Hard," in which they stated, "In trial runs, conducted under ideal conditions, the interceptors in Alaska and California have failed half the time...the North will soon have enough long-range missiles to launch volleys of them..." Half the time with one missile is 50 percent to get it. Half the time for five nuclear missiles means we have only a 3 percent chance to shoot them all down. Just one nuclear hit on the United States would be a disaster.
Regardless of the reality, our survey showed that American voters think we can shoot down North Korean or Iranian nuclear missiles — in every region across the country, among Trump voters 70 percent, Clinton voters 49 percent, Republicans 67 percent, Democrats 51 percent, independents 53 percent, liberals 54 percent, moderates 54 percent, conservatives 63 percent, college graduates 58 percent, those who didn't graduate college 57 percent, women 53 percent, and men 61 percent. It seems that American voters do not grasp the dire reality at all.
However, when we asked: "Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who OPPOSES President Trump's plan to build a missile defense system to defend the United States and our allies from missile attacks from North Korea and Iran? If it makes no difference, just say so." Almost half the voters, 46 percent, said that they would be less likely to vote for an opponent of President Trump's missile defense, while only 28 percent are more likely.
Trump voters are less likely 67 percent to 24 percent; 26 percent of Clinton voters are less likely, too. Republicans are less likely 65 percent to 25 percent; independents are less likely 47 percent to 23 percent; 28 percent of Democrats are less likely and among those who are undecided in their vote for Congress, 45 percent are less likely and only 19 percent are more likely. Congressional opponents of missile defense who are up for election this year need to re-assess.
With North Korea and Iran on the edge of being able to launch nuclear missiles at the United States, developing improved missile defense as quickly as possible has the potential to be either a bipartisan unifying national issue, or a potential wedge issue for Republicans to maintain their Congressional majorities. American voters are about to get a dose of reality.
John McLaughlin has worked professionally as a strategic consultant and pollster for over 35 years. During this time he has earned a reputation for helping some of America’s most successful corporations and winning some of the toughest elections in the nation. His political clients have included former Presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and 22 current and former U.S. Senators and 21 current Republican members of Congress. Last year John worked as an advisor and pollster for Donald Trump from the primaries through Election Day.
Jim McLaughlin is a nationally recognized public opinion expert, strategic consultant and political strategist who has helped to elect a U.S. President, Prime Ministers, a Senate Majority Leader, and a Speaker of the House. Jim has worked for over 70 members of Congress, 14 U.S. Senators, 10 governors, numerous mayors and scores of other elected officials. He also serves as a consultant and market research strategist to Fortune 500 companies. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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