Friday, March 29, 2013

Polarization Affects the Court

The current Supreme Court term is deciding a host of controversial cases at the moment the national trend of disapproval of government and polarized views appear to be affecting it.

Up until 2009, the Pew Poll reported the Court at 60 percent favorability or higher. Today, Pew registers it at 52 percent. It was in the low 50s all during 2012, with the health care case the highest profile and most partisan issue decided and the presidential race the main political context.

About half of Republicans (47%) are favorable towards the Court and 56 percent of Democrats.  It represents a 9-point increase for Republicans since the health care decision at the end of June 2012, but well below the 56 percent favorability prior to health care. Two-thirds of Democrats (64%) favored the Court last summer.

Most people believe the Court’s political philosophy is in the center of the road (40%), but liberal Democrats believe it is conservative (48%) and conservative Republicans believe it is liberal (45%). In fact, only 9 percent of conservative Republicans and only 15 percent of moderate to liberal Republicans believe the Court is conservative.
Although there are competing views from legal scholars, most believe the conservatives have dominated the modern court, especially due to swing votes usually breaking to the right of center.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fracking Protests Heat Up

Guns, Hispanic student tuition and gay rights may just be a warm-up for the battle about to begin at the Colorado State Legislature.

Conservatives won the ground game, but mostly lost the war over guns with their battalion of members, car rallies and e-mails. Now, it’s the left’s turn. Demonstrations are being mounted around the Capitol. “Hey hey, ho ho, fracking has got to go” is aimed at Gov. Hickenlooper and some moderate Democratic legislators.

A host of bills have been introduced, some significantly upending the state regulatory process, others clearly aimed at simply stopping all fracking.

Hickenlooper would like to find a compromise, but it won’t be easy. Fracking unites the entire environmental left with local NIBYS who simply don’t want the impact of oil and gas exploration near their homes. Anti-growth, climate change, water pollution, pro-renewables, you name it, fracking is attracting the full spectrum of environmental issue advocates with an army of protestors.

This battle reflects the fact natural gas has become plentiful and cheap.  It is rapidly replacing coal as the main energy source for electrical generation.  The upside is profound:
  • Americans could become energy independent
  • American manufacturing is gaining a price advantage due to lower-priced energy
  • Natural gas reduces the dependence on coal and lowers carbon emissions
  • Gas and oil development are leading the recovery, and the industry is very advantageous for Colorado’s employment and local and state tax revenue
With the liberal tilt of this legislature and the anti-fracking grassroots legions, the Governor and industry will be very busy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bloomberg is Wasting Money

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s commitment to spend millions in anti-gun advertising is probably not just a waste of money, but counter-productive.

Senate Majority Leader Reid did not miscount.  There weren’t 40 votes for an assault weapons ban, and running local TV advertising in red states with Democratic senators up in 2014 won’t move the needle.

In fact, the latest CBS poll by Anthony Salvanto shows that support for gun control is backsliding since the Newtown shooting. Public support for stricter laws is now 47 percent, down from 57 percent last December. Half the public want laws kept the same (39%) or lessened (11%). There was a 12-point drop off in Democratic support for stricter laws.

But, Bloomberg as the most egregious example of the rich elite New York nanny state liberal is an easy foil for Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.  He probably costs more red state votes than his ads gain.

CBS News: Poll: Support for stricter gun control wanes
Huffington Post: Heidi Heitkamp blasts Michael Bloomberg over gun control ads

Does Democratic Legislative Agenda Threaten Governor?

Is the aggressive liberal agenda of the Democrats, which roared through the first half of the legislative session, endangering party moderates, especially Gov. Hickenlooper?

Colorado Democrats have become national leaders in passing gun control and civil union legislation. Also on their agenda is in-state tuition for the children of undocumented parents, recreational marijuana regulations, abolition of the death penalty, restrictions on fracking and new taxes for education. Party liberals and Democratic interest groups are enthusiastic about moving the full legislative agenda by the May end of session.

The Democratic Party now securely holds the state’s top positions and strong majorities in both houses of the Legislature. But that dominance has been a reflection of the party not appearing extreme or in disarray. The startling success of the Colorado Democratic Party since the election of Ken Salazar to the U.S. Senate in 2004 has, at least partially, reflected its selection of candidates, who by track records and campaigns presented themselves as moderates.

The statewide team of Salazar, Udall, Bennet and Hickenlooper has benefitted the party by their measured images. At least in business issues and in general temperament, John Hickenlooper may be the most centrist politician of the group and it’s clear he’s becoming concerned about the speed and volume of liberal proposals.

Hickenlooper is up in 2014 and is not convinced the state is as safely blue as the legislative leadership and its allies believe or at least are acting. Hence, his comments that he may veto the death penalty bill. He’s trying to slow down the game and warn his left to pause.  And pause they did.

In spite of statements of near certainty by Democratic bill sponsors that they had the votes to pass the death penalty repeal, the House Judiciary Committee killed it with two Democratic votes.

It appears the party’s left wing, which is already unhappy with him about his support for fracking, has momentarily backed off. Boulder’s liberal, anti-death penalty DA Stan Garnett, who covets the attorney general nomination, was quick to attack the governor’s position as shameful and complain about the alleged political risk he faced in testifying for the death penalty repeal. Frankly, in Boulder, being in favor of the death penalty is riskier.

The next issue is fracking. That will produce another more difficult test between the liberal wing and the pragmatists.

See Denver Post: House committee rejects death penalty repeal bill Tuesday

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Obama Wants Movement on Immigration Reform

The one thing that could stop progress on immigration reform is President Obama getting involved.  That is no doubt frustrating for a president who sees himself as an extraordinary advocate. But the Los Angeles Times confirmed on Monday that when the President’s support is attached to a proposed plan, Hispanic support goes up slightly, but Republican support drops 13 points.

In general, reform stakeholders have encouraged the president to stand aside and let the legislation being drafted by the “gang of eight” move forward. Obama has a hard time doing that since his goal of actually addressing problems conflicts with his and his senior advisors’ goal of gaining political advantage and winning back the House.

Obama has threatened to introduce his own bill if the Senate effort lags, but most observers believe any Obama legislation would collapse in the long history of partisan gridlock surrounding the issue.

See Huffington Post: Obama on immigration reform: “We’ve got to finish the job”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friends and Foes

When Americans assess the nations of the world as favorable and unfavorable as they do domestic politicians, they place English-speaking countries and WWII adversaries, now allies, at the top of the favorability list. The survey, conducted regularly by Gallup, places North Korea and several Middle East and central south Asian nations at the bottom.

North Korea hugging the bottom of the list is not a surprise. The new and untested leader, Kim Jong-un, and his government have fired missiles, tested a nuclear bomb underground, sent a parliamentary leader to Iran to talk “scientific cooperation,” and threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons and turn South Korea into a “sea of flames.”

And mostly this was just in the last few weeks related to strengthening his leadership position and an effort at distraction while the UN, including China, added even more sanctions on the regime.

So much for hope and change with a young new leader.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

RNC – Comprehensive Immigration Reform

As one liberal think tank advocate exclaimed: “Nine months ago, people would have thought you were nuts to say that four Republicans and four Democrats were working on a way to legalize 11 million people,” said Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress.

There is still a long way to go, even for the so-called Gang of Eight, to put a proposal on the table. But when the RNC joins four Democrats, including party warhorses like Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin, and four Republicans, including 2008 nominee John McCain and a 2016 prospective candidate Marco Rubio, to endorse compromise immigration reform, things have changed.

Immigration reform is a difficult issue, and none of the stakeholders are taking it for granted.  President Bush wanted to accomplish it and had no success. It did not have President Obama’s attention when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Plus, in 2009 and 2010 many Democrats feared a backlash. But fortunately for proponents, public opinion and political positioning are today in a sufficient state of alignment to move the proposal forward.

The surprising correlation of forces reflects the significant increase in the political clout of Latinos and the public’s growing frustration with the lack of progress. It has given both parties sufficient incentive to keep their demands within reason and accept some of the necessary trade-offs to get the issue resolved.

Los Angeles Times: Senators agree on path to legal status for illegal immigrants
The Buzz: Immigration reform has a chance

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not Going to Chase a Balanced Budget – Obama

President Obama has stated his goal is not to balance the budget just for the sake of it.

His view reflects the Democratic Party’s position that budget balancing in today’s environment will hurt the economy. Unfortunately for the President, the public has moved the deficit and government spending to the top of their agenda. And, the President’s disinterest in reigning in spending appears to correspond to a drop in his polls. It has led him and fellow Democrats to at least propose a budget and start a conversation.

Although Obama may be out of alignment with general public opinion, he is lined up with the Party rank-and-file. When examining priorities for the president and Congress to accomplish, a Wall Street Journal poll shows Democrats rate reducing the deficit toward the middle of their list with education, the environment and gun control laws listed more important. Republicans have reducing the deficit in second place.

The President may also be using the American people’s conflicted attitudes about government spending to accomplish his goal of protecting a robust federal government – Americans tend to like cuts in the abstract and spending in fact.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Colorado Death Penalty May Fall

The Colorado legislature is barely half over and Colorado Democrats are rushing their aggressive agenda.  Civil unions and guns are mostly done. Anxious to use the momentum, civil libertarians are positioning abolition of the death penalty for consideration.

Although public opinion still supports the death penalty, citizens are conflicted on the issue. They are concerned about its fair application and frequent reports of exonerations and mistaken executions.

It represents another issue for moderate Democrats (there are very few) and Gov. Hickenlooper to navigate.

See Washington Post: How the media is killing the death penalty

Monday, March 18, 2013

Market Power Up

The Cyprus Bank heist reminds us that the European debt crisis is far from over. The market is slightly off, but after a huge last ten days.

Some private sector job growth and a modest drop in jobless claims contributed to the commentary accompanying a 485 point 10-day gain. The Dow jumped from its March 5 push through its 2007 pre-great recession peak, to 14539, or up 11 percent for the year. In two and one-half months, it has nearly equaled last year’s entire 14 percent gain.

After four years of being on the sidelines, individual investors returning to the market seem to be driving the latest Dow surge. Regret for having already missed the market recovery since bottom of 6547 in March 2009 and fear of missing a 20-point plus year has overcome the caution that restrained smaller investors.

The risk calculation appears justified, but the market’s continued gains must overcome the sequester’s likely falloff in federal job growth, the black swans that Cyprus represents and the growing resistance to Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate strategy.

What should be remembered is that the market recovery of 2013 has not recreated the world marketplace or the domestic economy of 2007. China’s and Europe’s prominence, Washington’s fiscal gridlock, baby boomer retirement, and Fed policy are new elements of this decade’s financial environment that must be incorporated into an investor’s strategy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is Colorado Gun Fight Harbinger of Controls Speeding Across the Country?

Colorado Democrats have managed a reasonably strong package of new gun control legislation in the face of vigorous opposition. Although both sides look intolerant or extreme at moments, in general, the Democrats appear to have a pleased, or at least tolerant, public at their back.

Colorado’s package will be a morale booster for gun control advocates and Democrats, but whether it will have much effect on the national debate or is easily transferable to other states is unclear.

After three months of intense discussion, public opinion is still about where it was in December. Variations on question wording show the desire for more gun control laws or stricter current laws is close. Universal registration has overwhelming support, but banning assault weapons is more narrowly divided.

And in Colorado, even though the Democrats hold a majority in both Houses, they dropped their assault ban because of insufficient votes due to vulnerable rural and swing district Democrats. Also, in terms of boots on the ground; that is people at the Capitol, e-mails and testimony, the gun rights forces showed passion, volume and skill.

If confirms what Democratic U.S. Senators from swing and more rural states already believe. Anti-gun votes will be a polarizing issue in 2014 and bring out a Tea Party-type constituency so influential in 2010.

Christian Science Monitor, Amanda Paulson, 3-11-13
“There’s a lot at stake, and it’s been an incredible battle,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado pollster and political analyst. “There’s a sense among the proponents [of the bills] that what comes out of Colorado may then have some influence on Washington thinking, and could definitely go into other states.”
The liability bill, in particular, generated fierce criticism from many who labeled it as too extreme. “I think it generated an avalanche of e-mails,” says Mr. Ciruli, adding that “clearly, there are some boundaries out there.”
Washington Post:  Post-ABC poll: Gun control politics
The Buzz:  Is Colorado the national bellwether for guns?
The Buzz:  Dissing the Second Amendment
The Buzz:  Guns are up – Colorado 
The Buzz:  Guns are up – U.S. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Obama’s Charm Offensive

President Obama’s approval rating dropped at least 5 points since March 1, and his average is now below 50 percent. In fact, several polls have the president at 45 percent, with disapproval higher than approval, polling numbers not regularly seen since before the September Democratic Convention. It reflects the failed sequester strategy of all campaign and no negotiations.

The good news for centrist members of the public looking for solutions is that Obama has changed course and launched a charm offensive, which offers negotiations and claims to present compromise. At least he has initially found some takers among Republicans and now must see if his party will go along. Obama’s political problem is that on the economy and federal finances, people are not happy with his performance.
  • The public remains strongly dissatisfied with the economy.
  • They are increasingly concerned about the federal government’s finances (debt and spending).
  • They rate Obama very poorly in his handling of the economy – 30% approve, 55% disapprove – and even worse on his handling of the deficit – 31% approve and 65% disapprove.
Voters, contrary to the President’s political advisors, are not framing the problem in a sufficiently partisan context to let his partisan advantage, however modest, carry the day.

The administration would be wise to stay on the negotiation course for now.

See Gallup:
Americans most satisfied with military, least with economy
Obama rated highest on foreign affairs, lowest on deficit

Also see blogs:
Obama backs up
Risk of permanent campaign
Why the president’s sequester strategy failed to lift off
Are the 2014 congressional elections being decided this week?

Monday, March 11, 2013

A New High, But No High Fives

On March 6, the DOW industrial average broke its all-time high set six years earlier in October 2007 (14164). At least one important economic indicator says the great recession is over (March 6 close 14253).

But, there were no high fives among the traders and mixed views among the analysts as to the depth and likely life of this rally. It began on March 9, 2009 when the market hit its bottom of 6547, more than 120 percent below the 2007 high.  Four years is a long run for a bull market.

The cautious reception for this record is well-deserved.
  • Much of the exuberance is driven by Federal Reserve action.  Bernanke’s ability to hold interest rates at rock bottom levels appears to be reaching its limits.  Is there two years left, one or less?
  • The rally has run well ahead of the base economy, which continues to recover, but at a much slower pace.
  • The rally has trusted that the European Central Bank and Germany can manage the continental debt crisis.
  • The rally appears confident China will continue its managed growth, while avoiding a military anxious to show off its new hardware.
  • The rally, like many Americans, now ignores the gridlock and mostly irresponsible fiscal politics in D.C.
In general, the rally in its long duration has avoided a multitude of black swans. Many believe it will keep running.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Is Colorado the National Bellwether for Guns?

Colorado legislative sessions are often unremarkable. Last year, the placid surface of the session was broken the last week with a fight over civil unions.  But this year’s session started with a bang, and is being intensely covered on networks and cable news, in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and papers around the country. Colorado grabbed the attention early in January because it was moving fast, it has had two world reported incidents of gun violence and it is seen as a presidential-level battleground state. Seven gun control bills are the topic, and what Colorado does is considered likely to be a template for debates around the country and Washington D.C.

The opponents of more gun control see the state as a bellwether and have brought in top spokespersons and organizers. Thousands of Second Amendment advocates have blanketed the Capitol, and probably won the ground war, even though the pro-gun control forces brought in a host of stars led by Captain Mark Kelly (Giffords).
What Colorado does with final passage of the bills will establish much of the momentum for the gun control movement this year. Do all the bills pass, suggesting that 2013 is a special moment in time and Democrats, even in a battleground state, believe the issue is safe for the 2014 election?  If only a few pass, it will reinforce the more conventional view that gun control is a very tough issue, and in a moderate turnout election, some Democrats could lose. There will likely be some new legislation, but it will be hard fought and how much will control the story.

Senate gun bills:

Senate Bill 197:  Restricts firearms for domestic violence offenders
House Bill 1224:  Limits ammunition magazines to 15 rounds
Senate Bill 196:  Assesses liability for assault weapons
Senate Bill 195:  Bans online training for concealed handgun permits
House Bill 1229:  Requires universal background checks for gun sales and transfers
House Bill 1228:  Requires gun customers to pay the costs of their background checks
House Bill 1226:  Outlaws concealed-weapon permit holders from carrying on campus

Denver Post, Kurtis Lee, 3-8-13
“It’s more than likely members of these committees already had their minds made up going into testimony,” said political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “But when a final vote is on the line, there’s no going back from that vote, and minds could be swayed.”
“We’re the pinnacle platform for America’s gun discussion,” said Ciruli, who has followed politics for more than 30 years in Colorado. “Which legislation passes here and what fails could — and, in fact, will likely — set the benchmark for what’s to come.”

Obama Backs Up

After a failed sequester effort, President Obama took a breath and has switched to a charm offensive launched by hosting a dinner with a group of senators he has had little contact with for four years. Obama did not scrimp on the food. The Jefferson Hotel is a Relais and Chateaux.

It’s difficult to judge either the sincerity of the effort or its likely success. Obama had spent the preceding two weeks savaging Republicans for, in his view, irresponsibility causing a host of calamities to the U.S. government and the economy. The dinner was clearly a result of the underwhelming reviews his sequester roadshow collected, accompanied by downward movement in his approval polls.
But, it remains difficult to see the potential for a higher level of comity and progress on a grand bargain for entitlement reform since this new approach appears mostly a tactical adjustment. The big strategy – the permanent campaign – aimed at 2014 and recapturing the House, is still in place and being run off-site by Messrs. Axelrod, Plouffe, Messina et al.

The White House strategy was mostly clearly articulated by Ryan Lizza, the liberal New Yorker columnist, who points out that Obama’s team believes only with government unified by one party’s control, like Obama’s first two years, is it likely to pass his legislation agenda? Governing and especially moving legislation in a divided government is inversely related to campaigning, and this White House looks more oriented to Chicago than D.C.

See blogs:
Why the presidents sequester strategy failed to lift off
Risk of permanent campaign
Are the 2014 congressional elections being decided this week?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Colorado No. 1 in Wellbeing in Continental U.S.

Colorado, compared to the other 48 states, is first in the national Gallup wellbeing index.  Hawaii consistently scores number one among all 50 states.

The wellbeing index is a combination of six sub-indexes. Colorado gets its highest rating in physical health, which reflects lower rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Colorado and Hawaii are joined by Minnesota, Utah and Vermont as the top five states in the wellbeing index.  West Virginia, along with border or southern states of Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas, dominate the bottom of the index.

The sub-indexes rate a series of conditions related to an individual’s wellbeing, including a general evaluation of a person’s life; their emotional health, such as worry and depression; work environment; physical health; health behavior, such as diet and smoking; and finally, access to basic necessities, such as food, health care and housing.
Hawaii scored first in life evaluation, emotional health and work environment. West Virginia residents rated the worst on life evaluation, emotional and physical health.  Massachusetts had the best access to the basics and Mississippi the worst, including lacking access to sufficient food for individuals and families.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why the President’s Sequester Strategy Failed to Lift Off

President Obama has failed to capture the attention of the American people with the sequester campaign and roadshow.

For five years, Americans have dealt with furloughs. In Denver, it began as revenue dropped mid-decade. The City and County of Denver just ended its city furloughs with a new tax. So, when President Obama and the administration express panicked concern about federal furloughs, there was a collective yawn.

Washington D.C. and its environs do not engender much sympathy. While it may be hit by furloughs and even layoffs, it has also benefitted greatly from the growth of government.

Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia dominate the top states with government workers.  D.C. was also the fourth fastest growing job market in 2012 and, most importantly, among the richest in per capita income. Maryland was first, D.C. fifth and Virginia seventh in income.

See Gallup:  As sequestration starts, Americans unsure of consequences

Risk of Permanent Campaign

The sequester confrontation has highlighted President Obama’s transfer of the basic activities of his highly effective re-election campaign to the White House.  Daily press conferences by the President and much of the administration declaring the most dire circumstances unless Congress and especially House Republicans accepted revenue increases in the sequester process put the campaigner-in-chief strategy bold relief.  A willing and mostly sympathetic press corps featured every claim regardless of how staged or unrealistic sounding.
The exercise secured the President’s image as campaigner-in-chief uninterested in meeting with legislators and often out-of town on the campaign trail.  Although polls indicated he would win the blame game by a modest percentage, his own rating remains in the low 50-percent range.
Most importantly, he was ignored by both the public, which never really engaged in the confrontation (majority are unable to say if it is a “good” or “bad” thing after it went into effect last Friday, Gallup 2013), and especially Republicans who increasingly saw him as unresponsive and irrelevant.  When the deadline passed and mostly nothing happened, the entire administration appeared like a theatrical roadshow that closed after a poor opening.
This was probably the worst performances of the administration since the confusing and weak performances in the 2011 debt ceiling debacle.
The permanent campaign is raising the cynicism of the even sympathetic press corps.  The danger is the extravagant effort is taking on the look of pseudo-event and not the real deal.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

California Leading the Country on Liberal Social Agenda

Although recent polls indicate the country has shifted to the left on some issues, including gay rights, marijuana use, gun control and illegal immigration, California is in a major swerve. The state has an image of being avant-garde on social practices, but voters have historically been more conservative than the residents of the Bay area or Hollywood.

Two recent Field Polls show on marijuana legalization and gay marriage, California has moved dramatically left of recent statewide elections on the subjects and historic polling trends (which Field Research has maintained since WWII). Support for gay marriage has been less than a fifty-fifty proposition during the last decade.  In fact, a ban on gay marriage passed with 52 percent in 2008. But, just as the Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of the 2008 ban, 61 percent of Californians say they support gay marriage.

The repositioning of gay marriage as a civil right for a sympathetic group from being a special agenda item of a controversial lifestyle has been one of the most extraordinary changes in American politics and polling.
The latest surge in support is at least partially attributed to the significant changes in minority support for the issue (African Americans/Asian Americans from 41% to 64% support; Hispanic up 6 points to 56%). However, the shift is across the board so that even Republicans support went up 13 percent to 39 percent approval. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

U.S. Post Office Fades Away

Only about 40 percent of Americans say they use the U.S. Post Office weekly.  The rest (59%) use it monthly, seldom or never.  And business use has collapsed.  Ciruli Associates depended on the copy and postage machines every day in the 1980s and 1990s.  Today, the copier is still in use, if less, but the postage machine gathers dust.

So, it’s not surprising that more than half the public (54%) approves ending Saturday delivery of mail.  The decision received bipartisan support, with a majority of Democrats, typically more reluctant to cut government services, on board (51%).

Unfortunately, a proud and historic American institution is in a technological and business death spiral.  Each cut in service, staff and facilities reduces cost, but makes it less useful.  It has that rotary dial look.  We still communicate more than any civilization in history, but we have moved on in technology.

See Pew Poll: Most approve of ending Saturday mail delivery

Friday, March 1, 2013

Colorado Springs Strong Mayor Popular

Colorado Springs’ newly elected mayor, Steve Bach, has a 67 percent favorable rating in a local newspaper poll.  Voters changed their municipal government to create a strong mayor, and Bach is their first mayor under the new system.

He has opposed new taxes and fees and started a number of arguments with the city council and the local water utility.  It appears voters like his approach.

See Colorado Springs Independent:  Steve Bach gets stamp of approval in poll

California Moves to Support Recreational Marijuana

California may catch up with Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana.  For the first time, a majority (54%) of Californians told the Field Poll that they favored legalization.

California voters rejected legalization in 2010 and only 30 percent of them favored legalization in the early 1980s.

Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana by 55 percent in November 2012.

Security Remains Americans Biggest Foreign Policy Concern

Security is Americans’ main foreign policy goal. Terrorism has been the most important foreign policy issue for Americans since it was first mentioned just after 9/11. Terrorism joins nuclear proliferation and energy security as peoples’ top concerns. Trade, human rights and nation-building are lower on the list.

Not surprising, Democrats are more enamored with working with the UN, promoting human rights and promoting the economies of other countries than Republicans and less supportive of defending allies. Neither party is very interested in building democracy.

See Gallup polls:
Republicans, Democrats agree on top foreign policy goals
Americans say preventing terrorism top foreign policy goal