During the week prior to Bin Laden’s death, voters (267) responded to the following question in the AQ Strategy 2011-2012 poll:
What will be the single most important Western counterterrorism program over the next 5 years?
With this question, I wanted to see how voters, after identifying AQ’s main effort in previous questions #8 and #9, would choose to counter AQ. Here are the results I found particularly interesting (remember: this is the week prior to Bin Laden’s death)
- The largest portion of voters selected “Strengthening local moderate Arab voices” as most critical in defeating AQ. Another soft power option, “Economic Development & Democracy Promotion” received the third largest number of votes.
- “Targeted decapitation of AQ leadership” received the second highest number of votes. This very action, targeted leadership decapitation of UBL, occurred the week after these votes were collected.
- The lowest vote recipient was “Nation building efforts in Iraq”. Those selecting this option were predominately ‘Government’ voters and mostly military. It appears the Iraq-AQ connections have mostly died over the past 8 years and Iraq is not seen as critical to defeating AQ.
- Surprisingly, all professional groups tended to vote in similar patterns. The only significantly different group response (see 2nd chart below) occurred with “Economic Development & Democracy Promotion”. ‘Academic’ and ‘Student’ voters chose this option far more than other groups. The “economic development and political freedom to defeat terrorism” argument remains a constant in academic circles where noble concepts void of implementation mechanisms gain the most resonance. Ironically, ‘Government’ voters were the least likely group to choose this option. My guess: those that have to implement ‘Economic Development & Democracy Promotion” are far less optimistic about its possibility for deterring terrorism.
I will hold on any further analysis as I asked this same questions one week later after UBL’s death. In the next post, I’ll compare the results of this question, before and after UBL’s death, to see how a major shock did or did not change voters perspectives.
Below are two charts. The first shows the raw vote totals by CT option and the second shows the percentage of each professional group selecting each of those options.