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In an October 17 ABCNews.com online article titled "Down but Not Out, GOP Still Has a Chance," ABC News political director Mark Halperin asserted that Republicans have "an advantage" over Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections on "national security and taxes." In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted (here and here), recent polls suggest that Democrats actually hold an advantage over Republicans on both issues. Additionally, during the October 16 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, Halperin asserted that Democrats "are more liberal in many cases than they want to admit" and are "basically just trying to hide what they want to do, knowing full well that the country, a lot of the country, will vote for change, even without specifics."
In his analysis on ABCNews.com, Halperin wrote:
NATIONAL SECURITY and TAXES: On these two issues that inspire emotion among loyal Republicans and many swing voters, Republicans have long had an advantage, and President Bush and other prominent figures in the party will be pushing those messages hard.
But, as Media Matters has noted, recent polling shows Americans trust Democrats more on taxes than they do Republicans, a finding that is reaffirmed in the most recent Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll on the subject, which showed a 46 percent-to-35 percent Democratic advantage on taxes in February 2006 and an advantage of 45 percent to 30 percent in September.
Further, recent polling also indicates that Democrats hold an advantage over Republicans on dealing with national security issues, such as terrorism and Iraq. For example, a CNN poll conducted October 6-8 found that 45 percent of respondents felt Democrats "would do a better job" in dealing with terrorism versus 40 percent who indicated a preference for Republicans on that issue. The poll's margin of error was +/- 3 percent. Similarly, a Gallup/USA Today poll conducted October 6-8 also gave Democrats a five-point advantage over Republicans -- 46 percent to 41 percent -- on "who would best handle terrorism"; a Newsweek poll conducted October 5-6 gave Democrats a seven-point advantage -- 44 percent to 37 percent -- on the question of "which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror"; and an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted October 5-8 gave Democrats a six-point advantage -- 47 percent to 41 percent -- on the question of "which political party" would "do a better job handling [t]he U.S. campaign against terrorism."
Democrats also hold a significant advantage over Republicans when respondents are asked which party they prefer to handle the situation in Iraq. For instance, the October 6-8 CNN poll found that Democrats held a 17-point lead over Republicans -- 51 percent to 34 percent -- on which party respondents felt "would do a better job of dealing with ... [t]he situation in Iraq." Likewise, the Gallup/USA Today poll gave Democrats a 17-point advantage -- 52 percent versus 35 percent -- over Republicans on who "would do a better job of dealing with" Iraq. The Newsweek poll gave Democrats a 13-point advantage, with 47 percent of respondents indicating that they "trust" the Democrats "to do a better job handling" Iraq; 34 percent indicated a preference for Republicans on the issue.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Halperin is the co-author of The Way To Win: Taking the White House in 2008 (Random House, October 2006), purporting to explore the reasons for the Democrats' defeats in recent elections, as well as White House senior adviser Karl Rove's role in George W. Bush's and the GOP's political successes to date.
From the October 16 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
HALPERIN: Well, the Democratic Party is not targeting you. They have too many divisions.
BECK: No kidding!
HALPERIN: They're for big government in a lot of areas, including health care. They're for withdrawal from Iraq, in a lot of cases. They're divided. They're more liberal in many cases than they want to admit. They're basically just trying to hide what they want to do, knowing full well that the country, a lot of the country, will vote for change, even without specifics. It is a recipe for some serious gridlock if the Democrats take control of Congress and have to work with President Bush.