Friday, March 25, 2016

Democratic Primary Voters Have Low Interest in Foreign Policy

Terrorism is a problem for Bernie Sanders. In any question concerning a new terrorist attack, Sanders manages to work in that he voted against the Iraq War (and by the way Hillary Clinton voted for it). In other words, not only is he against boots on the ground, but his policy would be even more passive than President Obama’s, who basically, when forced to discuss his strategy, introduces the subject with “ISIL is not an existential threat” (unlike global warming).

Obama is again taking criticism for his ineffectual Syrian strategy from the left and right foreign policy establishment. But, the one group neither Sanders nor the President needs to worry about is rank and file Democrats.

Democratic primary voters rate the economy as most important priority, with terrorism in second place, but ahead of their candidates’ two favorite topics: health care and climate change.

Hillary Clinton clearly owns the terrorism issue in the Democratic Party. Sanders generally is on the defense. But Clinton must guard against breaking too far right of the Administration or appear to be criticizing it.

Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump outbid themselves with extreme statements about monitoring Muslim Americans, excluding Muslim immigrants and introducing illegal interrogation methods. But, they are reflecting their primary electorate, which rates terrorism and national security the top issue.

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