The following two statements are edited versions of comments made at the October 20, 1997, conference in Washington, D. C., at which the findings of this study were presented. Two pollsters, one who works for Republican candidates and one who works for Democrats, were asked to comment on the findings of the study in light of their experience. Fred Steeper, president of Market Strategies, has been a pollster for the presidential campaigns of George Bush and Robert Dole as well as other Republican candidates. Celinda Lake, president of Lake Snell Perry, has been a pollster for President Bill Clinton and other Democratic candidates.
Frederick T. Steeper
To use a technical term, there is a great deal of "good stuff" in this study. As a review and analysis of public opinion and of practitioners' perceptions of it, it is excellent. A misreading of the public on foreign policy issues by policymakers does take place and, indeed, the public is not as isolationist, anti-UN, anti-UN peacekeeping, or anti-foreign aid as many policymakers tend to believe.
I think that this misinterpretation on the part of policymakers is due to two recent and important changes in public opinion. The first is that,