Carnegie Mellon Press Release: January 26, 2004
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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
January 26, 2004

Pittsburghers Are Skeptical of the War in Iraq, According to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon Deliberative Poll

PITTSBURGH—A majority of Pittsburgh-area residents believe the war in Iraq has gotten in the way of the war on terrorism, according to a Deliberative Poll® that was conducted Saturday at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and co-sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University.

A Deliberative Poll gathers a representative sample of the community to discuss and respond to questions on pressing national and local issues. While traditional public opinion polls solicit knee-jerk responses from people who are not informed on the topic, a Deliberative Poll represents what people think about an issue if they have had time to consider and discuss it with experts and among themselves. To help formulate their positions on the issues, the poll respondents asked questions of a panel of experts and discussed the topics in small groups. The 100 Deliberative Poll participants were randomly selected in advance from residents living at addresses with zip codes that begin with 152, which includes the city of Pittsburgh and about 42 suburban communities.

Participants were asked a series of questions before attending the Deliberative Poll, and they were surveyed again when the event was over. When asked after the poll whether they agreed or disagreed that the war in Iraq had gotten in the way of the war on terrorism, 32 percent said they agreed strongly and 23 percent said they agreed somewhat, for a total of 55 percent.

Prior to the poll, only 27 percent of Pittsburgh participants agreed strongly, while only 16 percent said they agreed somewhat‹43 percent. Nationwide, 53 percent of participants agreed either strongly or somewhat that the war in Iraq has gotten in the way of terrorism. Before the poll, only 48 percent agreed.

The Deliberative Poll was one of 10 "Citizen Deliberations" that took place in communities across the nation as part of By the People: America in the World, a program sponsored nationally by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP). About 1,000 people participated nationwide. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon sponsored the Pittsburgh poll with assistance from several local organizations, including the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and the National Council of Jewish Women of Pittsburgh. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was the only metropolitan library in the nation to host a Deliberative Poll this past weekend.

Participants in all 10 cities considered two major aspects of foreign policy that likely will be discussed this year during the presidential campaign: How the United States can best ensure its security and how the United States can best ensure its economic well-being. In Pittsburgh, 48 percent of participants believe the North American Free Trade Agreement has hurt the U.S. economy; nationwide, only 39 percent of respondents believe NAFTA has been bad for the United States.

Developed by James S. Fishkin, the director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, about 20 Deliberative Polls previously have been held in the United States and across the globe, including Britain, Australia and Denmark. Deliberative polls give elected officials and policy makers a more accurate and dynamic picture of public opinion, and they give participants a sense that they have a stake and voice in their government.

At the national level, By the People aims to energize and enhance the conversation on America's role in the world through a series of nationwide and local broadcasts and events that demonstrate the relevance of foreign policy issues to local concerns. The project includes three national PBS specials, national and local forums for civic dialogue and an interactive Web site. Another round of the Deliberative Polls will take place in October, including one in Pittsburgh, and project organizers hope that communities will hold Deliberative Polls regularly to gauge public opinion on important local issues. For more information, go to or contact John Brinkley at 240-461-9837.


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