Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee received the results of a national poll last week that indicates support for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense collapses when voters are aware of his positions on the issues, Breitbart News has learned. The poll was conducted prior to the hearing on Jan. 31, when the former Republican senator struggled to answer questions about his positions on a range of defense-related issues.
The poll (below) was leaked to Breitbart News, which confirmed its authenticity with the poll’s sponsor, SecureAmericaNow.org, a national security PAC. Pollster Pat Caddell, a FOX News contributor and former aide to President Jimmy Carter, acknowledged that the poll had been provided to Senators prior to the hearing, though he expressed surprise that it had been leaked. Supporters and opponents of Hagel’s confirmation have engaged in a war of information behind the scenes as they attempt to woo support from both parties.
The poll, which surveyed 800 likely general election voters by telephone, found that only 48% approved of Hagel, against 27% who disapproved. (A similar poll by Politico in mid-January found that 42% of Americans supported Hagel while 24% opposed him.) When voters were presented with arguments for and against Hagel, based on his record, there was a massive 32-point negative shift: 50% disapproved against 39% who approved.
The poll concluded: “there is a significant disconnect between Senator Hagel’s views and the majority of Americans–including many supporters of the President.” Those differences primarily concerned Hagel’s views on American security, not his views on Israel, and outweighed the advantage gained when voters knew of his military record.
The wide swing in approval suggests that support for Hagel could become a significant liability for Democrats up for re-election in largely Republican states (e.g. Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, etc.) in 2014. Strong public opposition to Hagel, which has been absent thus far save for the work of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Christians United for Israel, and a few others, could likely swing mainstream opinion away from him.
The only publicly available poll data taken after the confirmation hearing was released on Feb. 4 by Rasmussen, showing that 33% of voters approved of Hagel and 33% did not, while 75% expected him to be confirmed regardless. Talk of a possible Republican filibuster was quieted when Sen. John McCain, who questioned Hagel vigorously during the hearing, re-affirmed his general opposition to filibustering presidential nominees.