VPR Vermont Poll Finds Worries About Afghanistan, Economy

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(Host) Vermonters are raising concerns about U-S military involvement overseas, but they consider the economy the most pressing issue.

The VPR Vermont Poll gauged public opinion on national issues, as well as state political races. And by a wide margin, the results indicate that the public remains focused on the economic downturn.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) Eighty-two year old Elaine Allen from Shaftsbury is not too happy with those in political office. She thinks politicians ought to stop raising their own salaries while the income for many senior citizens doesn’t change.

(Allen) "Automatically every year they give themselves a raise. But we don’t get a raise. We’re not getting a raise again this year. We’re not getting a raise on our Social Security."

(Dillon) The economy was the top concern among 625 voters surveyed in the VPR Vermont Poll this week. Fifty-eight percent ranked jobs and the economy as the top issue.

But Vermonters also are divided about U.S. military involvement overseas.

Forty-two percent oppose the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan; but 38 percent support the war. Twenty percent are undecided.

Peter Beck of Stowe has nephews serving in the combat zone. But he has doubts about the U-S goals in Afghanistan.

(Beck) "You certainly want to support the troops. … But the thing that’s lacking with the Afghan war in my mind is a clear objective, an objective that can be achieved." 

(Dillon) Jim Nicholson of Brattleboro also says he respects the soldiers serving overseas.

(Nicholson) "They’re out there putting their lives on the line for what the politicians are asking them to do. But I don’t feel like the war in Afghanistan is improving our national security. It just seems like a no-win situation to me."

(Dillon) The VPR Vermont Poll showed that support for the war is greater among men then women, and much higher among Republicans than Democrats.

University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson says Afghanistan enjoys wider support than the war in Iraq.  And he says the conflict in Afghanistan is now clearly identified with the Obama administration.

(Nelson) "So from that standpoint, this is not so surprising that the results are as close as they are. It’s clearly still not a popular war because it’s minus four as far as involvement is concerned. But this is Obama’s war and this one that presumably Bush should have fought instead of the Iraq war."

(Dillon) The VPR Vermont poll also showed support for changes to health care. Thirty-four percent said the government should finance a health-care-for-all program similar to Medicare. Twenty-six percent said it’s better to continue to rely on private insurance, while 22 percent favored a public option based on the state Catamount Health plan.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon. 

(Host outro) The VPR Vermont Poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research of Washington, D-C.

Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 registered voters by telephone. They said they were likely to vote. 

The statewide results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Details about the poll are posted online. To find them, go to vpr-dot-net and click on "Campaign 2010."  The VPR Vermont Poll was made possible by the VPR Journalism Fund.

VPR Vermont Poll Results

Visit Campaign 2010 for full VPR Vermont Poll Results

VPR Vermont Poll Broad Issues

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