"Deliberative Poll" Shows Americans' Views on Iraq, Trade
After day-long "Citizen Deliberations," Americans from ten cities across the United States said they believed establishing a democracy in Iraq was less important than ensuring the country has a stable government. They also strongly favored involving the United Nations or other countries in the rebuilding of Iraq and rejected the notion that the United States should be able to unilaterally invade other countries that appear to pose a threat, without international support.
They expressed their views in a unique experiment in civic dialogue that took place Saturday in Baton Rouge, Green Bay, Kansas City, Kearney, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Rochester, San Diego, Sarasota, and Seattle. In each city, a scientific random sample of the community was invited to consider America's national security and trade policies, while a randomly selected "control group" of citizens receiving no such invitation was asked the same questions.
The participants spent the day learning about issues related to America's role in the world and discussing them among themselves and with bipartisan panels of experts. At the end of the day, they were scientifically surveyed via a process called Deliberative Polling. Thus, the contrast between the participants and the control group provides a picture of the ways in which public opinion on these issues might look different if people had more information and spent more time thinking about them. The results were released Sunday by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' By the People project.