The American People’s Presidential Debate

by Newt Gingrich

The news media’s analysts and commentators are preparing to argue over every tiny detail of Thursday night’s presidential debate, but the American people are entering debate week with strong, widely held feelings.

A new poll of 2,000 registered from America’s New Majority Project taken from June 20-23 shows Americans are remarkably clear about a number of issues and attitudes.

The biggest surprise to me was the depth of feeling that this election really matters.

An amazing 94 percent of those polled said this election is important to the survival of America (77.5 percent felt it was very important). That is a staggering consensus, and survival is a strong word.

The numbers were still astonishing at the personal level. Eighty-three percent of those polled said the election will be important to their personal survival (nearly half, 49.4 percent said it was very important to their personal survival).

This figure is so high because Americans are polarized over what threatens them. While 55.4 percent said America could not survive four more years of President Joe Biden, a slightly smaller 50.4 percent said America cannot survive four more years of President Donald Trump.

From a slightly different perspective, 40.3 percent did not think four more years of President Biden was a threat (28.8 percent felt this strongly). President Trump had a somewhat greater base of support since 45.7 percent rejected the idea that his re-election would be a problem (35.9 percent strongly repudiated the concept).

So, on the dire standard of survival, President Trump has a 5.4 percent general advantage. Among strong supporters, he has a 7.1 percent advantage.

Further, by 70 percent to 29.6 percent Americans feel things are going in the wrong direction. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Biden’s job as President. Only 43 percent approve of his work in the White House.

Republicans are winning the generic ballot test 45 percent to 43 percent. President Trump also continues to out-perform President Biden by 45.7 percent to 44.5 percent. In a six-way race including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, Jill Stein, and Chase Oliver, President Trump’s margin increases slightly to 40.3 percent over President Biden’s 38.8 percent.

Despite our divisions, Americans are still overwhelmingly unified in their affection for the United States. By 84.8 percent to 12.8 percent Americans agree that they are “proud to be an American.” That is an almost 7:1 commitment to patriotism.

An even bigger majority (90.4 percent) agree that they are “grateful to be an American.” Our foreign adversaries should note that despite the turmoil and turbulence of our lively democracy, we are bound together by deep and compelling feelings about America. Patriotism is alive and well.

This patriotism leads 81.6 percent of Americans to agree that the principles contained in the Declaration of Independence are relevant today. By nearly 6:1, Americans believe that being endowed by our Creator with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still relevant today.

This sense of patriotism rejects the modern effort to rewrite history. By 78.1 percent to 15.3 percent, Americans agreed that the founding fathers should be honored today for what they accomplished despite participating in slavery.

There are also surprising large margins on key questions.

By 78 percent to 13 percent, the American people believe patients and doctors should have the power in American health care – not the government. Some 65 percent feel this strongly.

Similarly, by 72.9 percent to 18 percent, Americans believe parents should have the final say in their children’s education (59.6 percent feel this strongly). This is a remarkable repudiation of the teachers’ unions and the establishment education bureaucracies. 

People are increasingly fed up and worried over crime. By 73.4 percent to 17.9 percent, Americans believe we need tough penalties for criminals and drug dealers to keep the public safe (61.5 percent strongly).

The American people want the United States to pursue energy independence – including natural gas and oil (67.9 percent to 21.2 percent).

In foreign policy, Americans strongly prefer putting America’s interests before those of other countries – 74.6 percent to 16.9 percent. A full 60.5 percent strongly favor an America first position.

The emerging consensus on illegal immigration is clear. When asked if illegal immigration is good for the United States, 72.8 percent say no (60.6 percent strongly). Only 18.6 percent say that illegal immigration is good for America. That is almost 4:1 against illegal immigration.

Americans are evenly divided on abortion. The poll presented this statement:

“Abortion is a difficult issue because two lives are involved. Our goal should be to support women in difficult situations so that there are fewer abortions in America. Ultimately we would like to reach a point where abortion is unthinkable except in medical emergencies.”

By 51.2 percent to 36.4 percent, Americans agreed (26.6 strongly agreed while 17.1 strongly disagreed).

Abortion will clearly be the most contentious issue Thursday night, but it is not the most important issue to voters.

When presented with a list of issues, only 16.7 percent ranked abortion as No. 1. The top ranked choice was inflation and rising costs (48.9 percent). Then, 21.8 percent were worried about border security, and 20.9 percent were worried about jobs and economic growth.

While abortion will get a lot of attention from the media and the campaigns, economic issues and the border crisis matter more to most Americans.

It will be interesting to see if the moderators and the candidates talk about establishment Washington political hot topics or discuss what matter to most Americans.

President Trump is entering this debate with political wind at his back. President Biden represents a performance and ideology most Americans do not support.

There is a big opportunity for President Trump to focus on the American people’s concerns and not on the Washington news media’s myopia and their isolated self-importance.

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