Republican voters are hearing the war drums, and are beginning to nod their heads in time to the rhythm. That’s the conclusion one can come to reading the new poll from the Pew Research Center, which notes, among other things, an increasing eagerness among Republican voters to use ground troops in Iraq and Syria.This may work to Hillary's advantage. She probably supports Obama's current strategy of air stirkes plus arming our allies, which seems to me more her kind of thing than sending in armored divisions. (She may be belligerent, but she is also cautious.) So she can be her real, interventionist self on this issue and still seem more moderate than her Republican opponents. Unless her opponent is Rand Paul, in which they are likely on this issue to sound exactly alike.
We are now likely to enter a cycle in which more hawkish voters lead the GOP candidates to become more hawkish in order to appeal to them, which will in turn encourage the voters to become even more hawkish because they’ll be taking their cues from the things they hear from their party leaders, and around the cycle will go.
Four months ago, 57 percent of Republicans thought we should use ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria; that number has now gone up to 67 percent. Among the conservative Republicans who will dominate the primary contests, it’s even higher, at 71 percent. When Pew asked respondents to choose between “using overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world” and “relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism,” last October 57 percent of Republicans chose the overwhelming military force option; that number is now 74 percent.
Incidentally I really love the question Pew came up with; I think being forced to make that choice is very clarifying. I absolutely believe that relying on military force to defeat terrorism creates more problems than it solves.