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March 18, 2006

A Powerful New Voting Block Emerges


The Antiwar Movement Becoming a Political Force That Cannot Be Ignored

by Kevin Zeese

A new national poll shows that a near majority of voters either strongly or somewhat agree with a pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates. This makes the antiwar movement's potential impact on elections larger than pro-gun, anti-abortion, or anti-gay marriage voters. Politicians will have to pay heed to this new political force.

The pledge states:

"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or president who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression a public position in his or her campaign."

The national poll found that 45.9% of US voters agree 20.1% strongly agree and 25.8% somewhat agree. Among Democrats 67.1% agreed 33.3% strongly, 59.2% of Independents 25.3% strongly and even 25.7% of Republicans agreed 5.5% strongly. The poll was conducted by ICR Survey Research of Media, Pa., which also polls for ABC News, The Washington Post and many corporations and research organizations.

This poll demonstrates that antiwar voters are significant enough in size to affect the outcome of elections if they become organized. Just like pro-gun groups have organized, pro-choice and pro-life groups have organized now the antiwar constituency has been identified and the peace movement is ready to organize them. This will ensure that the antiwar movement will no longer be one that can be ignored.

A new group, VotersForPeace, has as its mission to educate, organize and activate voters who oppose the war. The group begins with grants totaling $1 million for 2006 and will organize voters not only to sign the pledge (you can do so at VotersForPeace.US), but also to influence Congress and provide voters with the information they need to understand the issues and be effective advocates.

Already many of the leading antiwar groups in the United States among them United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, Not In Our Name, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, AfterDowningStreet and Peace Majority are participating in the effort. The antiwar movement seems poised to focus their efforts on organizing peace voters into an effective political power.

VotersForPeace will educate voters through an ongoing web-based and print advertising campaign. In this effort the group is working across the political spectrum from the American Conservative to the Nation Magazine. The organization's goal is to organize two million voters in 2006 and five million by 2008.

Organized antiwar voters who pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates may force the Democrats in particular to develop a stronger position against the war. The Democrats may now realize that if they fail to represent the antiwar community voters will stay home or vote for alternative party and independent candidates.

Republicans are not free to ignore the antiwar constituency either. Not only do more that 25 percent of Republican voters oppose candidates who support the war, but the fastest growing group of voters independents overwhelmingly support the pledge. So, that all-important swing voter can cause Republicans to lose elections and could become a new source of support for Democrats or if both parties fail to support voters' wishes then candidates running independent of the two parties may find a new foundation on which to build an independent political movement.

This new politically focused effort comes at a time when the occupation of Iraq is losing public support. Only 37% of Americans believe the invasion of Iraq was worth it, 54% believe we should withdraw within a year, and only 22% believe the U.S. is sure to win (down from 79% in 2003) according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. A CBS poll found 70 per cent of Americans think the result of the war with Iraq was not worth the loss of American life and other costs. More and more Americans agree the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake. The antiwar voting block poll comes on the heels of poll by Le Moyne College and Zogby of veterans showing 72 percent favor withdrawal from Iraq within a year. And, a poll by the University of Maryland on January 31 that shows Iraqis want the U.S. to leave and 67% believe they will be better off when the U.S. leaves.

Polls show the Iraq occupation is not wanted by Iraqis or U.S. citizens, nor is it wanted by U.S. soldiers in Iraq or the foreign policy establishment in Washington, DC. This is the war nobody wants and now antiwar voters know they have the political power to end the war as well as end the careers of politicians who support the occupation. Politicians who don't see this new electoral power coming may find themselves out of office. And, the military-industrial complex may find themselves overwhelmed by voters taking back their government and saying "no" to the permanent war economy.

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Kevin Zeese is a director of Democracy
Rising.US
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