Newspaper Poll: Kentuckians Want GOP Leader McConnell to Oppose ‘Surge’

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By: E&P Staff

About half of Kentuckians think U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell should oppose a plan to send more American troops to Iraq, according to a new poll.

Conducted Feb. 8-14 by The Courier-Journal of Louisville, the Bluegrass Poll asked 801 adult Kentuckians by phone whether they approve of the way McConnell is handling his job and whether they think McConnell should support or oppose President Bush’s plan for a troop surge in Iraq. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll found that 52 percent of Kentuckians questioned said that McConnell should oppose the troop surge, while 40 percent said he should support it. The rest were undecided.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat approved of McConnell’s job performance, while 23 percent strongly or somewhat disapproved. Another 23 percent had no opinion.

McConnell told the newspaper he wasn’t “terribly surprised” by the poll results about Iraq.

“I’m not surprised that people are skeptical and are not satisfied (given) the lack of progress. I’m not satisfied … and I’m sure the president isn’t, either. That’s why he ordered this different approach,” McConnell said.

McConnell also said the poll question should have been framed differently.

“‘Do you favor cutting off the funds for the troops?’ My suspicion is the overwhelming majority of people of Kentucky would not favor cutting off funds for the troops,” McConnell said.

McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, has led the charge in the Senate to stop a vote on a resolution disapproving of Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more troops to strengthen the American presence in Baghdad.

McConnell faces voters in an re-election bid next year. So far, no Democrat has announced a run against McConnell. The vote on Iraq will likely be a consideration for voters, but it won’t be the defining issue by November 2008, McConnell said.

“Oh, look, I never take these things for granted,” he said. “I have to go out and earn the respect of my constituents again. I’m pleased that they gave me 65 percent of the vote last time, but I know that that doesn’t guarantee anything for the next time.”

Voters have mixed feelings about McConnell and his backing of Bush’s plan.

Traci Anderson, a 40-year-old homemaker from Okolona, said she thinks McConnell should oppose Bush on the war.

“I just feel we have way too many people over there to begin with, and we’ve lost so many people already,” she said. “If we send that many more people over, we’re asking for trouble.”

Loretta Ann Reynolds, a 51-year-old Democrat from Bowling Green, said is unsure about the war, but said McConnell should support the plan as long as Bush is president.

“I know the war in Iraq is not a favorable war,” she said. “But our troops are over there trying to protect our freedom and … Mitch McConnell should work with (Bush) on it.”

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