Hell, yes, invade Iraq if weapons inspections fail, say America's college students. But hell no, we won't go if the military draft is reinstated and we're called to serve, say more than four in 10 of these same undergraduates surveyed recently by Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
The survey found that nearly seven in 10 undergraduates-69 percent-said the United States should take military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, with 51 percent favoring action with allies and 18 percent willing to strike without the support of the United Nations. Nearly three in 10 opposed taking any action.
But an overwhelming majority-67 percent-of these men and women said they opposed reinstating the draft as a way to bulk up America's fighting forces. And 44 percent said they would "seek an alternative" if they were drafted, while only 24 percent said they would "eagerly serve." The remaining 28 percent said would "serve with reservation."
The survey also found that college students are deeply involved in community affairs, athough only lightly engaged in politics. Six in 10 performed some form of community service in the past year, and three-quarters of this group volunteered at least once a month.
"This Ohabit' of volunteerism was instilled in high school," these researchers reported. "Eighty percent of college students performed direct service while in high school and 89 percent of recent volunteers did so in secondary school."
At the same time, only a third said they were registered to vote and "definitely" planned to cast ballots in last month's election.
A total of 1,200 randomly selected undergraduates across the country were interviewed Oct. 18-27 for this survey. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
How's That Again?
We laughed out loud when pollster Kathy Frankovic of CBS News forwarded details of an item offered for sale recently on MastroNet, an Internet-based online auction specializing in "high-value collectibles."
The item offered for sale was an original Chicago Tribune front page of Nov. 3, 1948, that bore the infamous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman."
Even funnier than the headline was the description of the item, which read in part: "The Tribune's key mistake that election was in relying on exit polls to determine voter preference. Those polls, which were commonly relied on by many news sources during the time, were, as they soon found out, statistically flawed. That fact, along with many instances of poor judgment regarding basic fundamental tenets of professional journalism, eventually resulted in the greatest embarrassment ever had by a major newspaper."
Just one problem: the first exit poll wasn't done until 1967, two decades after the Tribune's infamous flub.
"I saw the reference to exit polling in '48," says Warren Mitofsky, the pollster who conducted the first exit poll in the 1967 Kentucky governor's race. "I saw another reference to exit polls in '64 being responsible for the projection of Johnson's victory over Goldwater before the West Coast polls closed. They did not exist then either."
Mitofsky suspects that the term "exit poll" has become "the generic term for election projections. It also seems to be said derisively. Sort of with a sneer. Eeexxxit polls did it!"
The recent notorious history of exit polling, including the total collapse of the network exit polls this past Nov. 5, also must have been on the mind of the anonymous blurb writer when he or she penned the description.
"That's obviously what happened," says Doug Allen, the president of the company, with a laugh. "Our writers try to provide an historic backdrop for the item to draw in the readers. It was a writer projecting the recent mistakes back to the past."
For the record, the Tribune's howler headline resulted when staffers, up against deadline, guessed that Dewey, who was leading at the time, would win. When Dewey's advantage vanished in the wee hours of the morning as later votes were counted, Tribune workers frantically fanned out across town picking up the papers, which were destroyed-another reason why the Nov. 3, 1948, issue is such a collector's item.
The front page, by the way, sold at auction for $1,995.25.
More than half-54 percent-of those who voted in this year's midterm elections on Nov. 5 were ticket splitters who voted for one or more candidates from both major parties, according to a national survey by Harris Interactive.
Only 19 percent of all voters cast a straight party-line ticket for Republican candidates; this included 44 percent of Republicans. Twenty-one percent voted only for Democratic candidates; this included 47 percent of Democrats.
A much larger majority (65 percent) of independents split their votes between candidates for both parties.
Richard Morin is director of polling for The Washington Post.