Strong Opposition to Iran War, Support for Complete Repeal of 2001 AUMF, New Joint Poll From Conservative, Progressive Veterans’ Groups Finds

Survey of diverse states, including early Democratic primary states, and key Congressional district, show a public united in its desire for public officials to stop march to more war

WASHINGTON, DC — A new poll across five 2020 swing states, and a Congressional district with a large military community, shows overwhelmingly strong opposition to a war with Iran, support for a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed after 9/11, and wariness of any further involvement in “forever wars” around the world.

The poll, conducted by Democratic pollster Lake Research Partners, and the conservative Stand Together, was commissioned by Concerned Veterans for America and VoteVets.  It polled voters in four diverse states that also are early Democratic primary states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. Florida, a key state in 2020, was polled, as well. It also surveyed voters in the 2nd Congressional District of Virginia, which includes Naval Station Norfolk. Norfolk deployed the Lincoln Carrier Strike group to the Middle East, and may bear the brunt of any military action in the region.

The full memo of the poll’s findings can be found here:  http://action.votevets.org/VV-CVA-Poll

The survey offers a clear picture of an electorate that, despite its Republican/ conservative skew, expresses no appetite for seeing the U.S. expand its military engagement in conflicts around the world, is particularly opposed to war in Iran, and supports repeal of the 2001 AUMF, favoring instead a fresh, bipartisan Congressional review and vote on any specific troop deployments.

“The findings in this survey surprised us with how strong they were, frankly,” said Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners.  “In a time of division, like we’re seeing now, it’s pretty rare to see convergence on the biggest issues of the day.  Yet, our poll finds that Republican-leaning states that are also home to early Democratic primaries, are united across the board on opposing war in Iran, and wanting Congress to repeal the old military force authorization.  What also was stunning is the number of people who oppose a war with Iran, but think one is going to happen, anyway.  That suggests that people are hoping people in Washington step up and do something to slow the march towards war.  For public officials, that’s a huge opportunity to fill a vacuum. When you break out Democratic voters, the numbers get even stronger, suggesting that this is an area where primary voters want to see their candidates take a robust stance.”

“Looking at these numbers, I’m blown away by the broad-based support for taking a more pragmatic and restrained approach to our foreign policy,” said Kyle McKenzie of Stand Together. “The American public seems to want less intervention, not more, requiring Congress to vote on new military authorizations, and are very hesitant to go to war with Iran, even though they think Washington will drive us into war without their input.”

Some of the key findings of the poll are: 

  • These voters have no appetite for increased military engagement. The data shows overwhelming numbers of likely voters across these key battleground states and in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District extremely leery of the United States becoming engaged in additional military conflicts around the world. Just 11% believe the U.S. should be more militarily engaged in conflicts around the world. Fully 83% prefer either no change (46%) or a decline (37%) in the level of U.S. engagement in military conflicts across the globe. Another 7% are unsure.  In none of states, nor in VA-02, does the appetite for increased military engagement exceed the low double-digits.
  • Voters are decidedly opposed to war with Iran. Even amid the administration’s concerted case for war with Iran, solid majorities of voters across these states and in VA-02 oppose the U.S. conducting an attack on Iran, regardless of whether it is referred to as a first-strike attack or not. A 54% majority of likely voters opposes the U.S. conducting an attack on Iran before the end of 2019, compared to just 29% of voters who support such action. Opposition remains largely unchanged at 55% when voters are asked a version of that question with the U.S.-led military action described as a “first-strike” attack,” with support, too, almost identical at 28%. Roughly one-in-six voters (17%-18%) are unsure, depending on how the question is posed.
  • Voters do not want to rely on the 2001 AUMF; fully half want this Congress to review and vote on specific troop deployments. After hearing that “U.S. troops are currently at war in seven countries under a Congressional authorization passed in response to 9/11 in 2001” and that “members of Congress from both the Republican and Democratic parties say we should repeal the old authorization and have a new evaluation on how and when our troops are deployed,” fully half of voters (50%) support repeal and having Congress evaluate and vote on specific troop deployments anew. Just 30% of voters believe “it is better to leave the 2001 authorization in place, so military force can be authorized quickly and without deliberation.” 
  • These number are all the more stunning, given the GOP skew of this sample. Where most nationwide surveys show a Democratic advantage in self-identified partisanship of anywhere from 3-5 points (and in some instances even higher), the 5 states included in this survey, along with VA-02, show an electorate (weighted proportionately for each state’s and the congressional district’s relative size) with a 3-point Republican advantage in self-identified partisanship: 43% identify as Republicans, 40% identify as Democrats, with the remaining number identifying as independents or another Party.
  • Despite their opposition, these voters fully expect that the U.S. will go to war with Iran. In a somewhat unsettling finding, the data points to a fundamental gap in voters’ expressed opposition to war with Iran and their expectation that the prospect of war with Iran is all but assured. Overall, 58% of voters in the study believe this scenario is likely (including 43% who see it as somewhat likely and 15% who see it as very likely). Just 27% see war with Iran as an unlikely outcome (including 22% who see it as not very likely and just 5% who see it as very unlikely) and another 16% are unsure.
  • Last, Democratic primary and caucus voters are even more vigorous in their opposition to war with Iran; their disapproval of expanded military engagement more broadly; and their support for repeal of the 2001 AUMF.
    • Over 7-in-10 Democratic primary and caucus voters oppose the U.S. going to war with Iran (71%) compared to just 16%-17% who support it, depending on whether military action is characterized as “an attack” or “a first strike attack.”
    • In fact, a 46% plurality of these voters indicates they want the U.S. less engaged in military conflicts around the world, compared to 40% who believe the level of engagement should stay about the same, and just 8% who want to see the U.S.’s level of military engagement expanded.
    • A 58% majority favors repeal of the 2001 AUMF and a fresh Congressional review and vote compared to just 25% who support leaving the 2001 authorization in place. When informed of bi-partisan Congressional support for repeal, Democratic voters’ support rises to 62%, with just 20% in favor of leaving the 2001 authorization in place.
    • As is the case with general election voters, fully 60% expect that the U.S. will go to war with Iran within the next few years, 24% believe it is unlikely, and 16% are unsure.

“Americans in these crucial states, and district, are really clear – they are strongly opposed to a war in Iran, and they want Congress to step up and repeal the 2001 AUMF,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chair of VoteVets.org. “For Congress, the message is obvious: The time has come to stand up for traditional war powers, and against anything that could lead America into yet another forever war, in Iran.  For Democratic presidential candidates, the takeaway is unquestionable.  The path to victory in a primary, and the general election, goes through opposing military action in Iran, and for repealing the 18-year old AUMF.”

“Americans don’t want a war with Iran—they understand it isn’t in our national interest nor does it serve to secure our safety or prosperity,” said Dan Caldwell, CVA senior adviser. “Similar to what we saw in CVA’s recent polling, the people are wary of being drawn into another endless war in the Middle East, and are looking for leaders in both parties to embrace a more prudent foreign policy. It’s concerning to see they think Washington is deaf to their will and will plunge us into war despite these feelings. We need to rethink how we approach foreign affairs and where, when, and why we employ our military might.”

Methodology: This poll was conducted on behalf of VoteVets and Concerned Veterans for America, by Lake Research Partners, in consultation with Stand Together, who designed and administered this survey. It was conducted online and reached a total of 2,951 likely voters across Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Florida (n=500 per state), and Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District (n=450).  In addition, the survey included oversamples of likely Democratic primary and caucus voters in the first four states (n=200 per state in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada).  The survey was conducted June 14-20, 2019. The margin of error for the General Election voter sample is +/- 1.8% overall, +/- 4.4% for individual states, and +/- 4.7% for VA-02. The margin of error for the sample of Democratic primary and caucus voters is +/- 1.8% overall, and between +/- 5.6% and +/- 5.9% for the individual states.