THE BLOG
05/02/2007 01:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Armchair Poll of Your Congressional District on Iraq Withdrawal

Yesterday President Bush vetoed a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Today thousands of Americans across the country will rally to protest his action and ask Congress to stand firm in pressing for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

[You can find a rally or make one here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/involved/vetorally.html]

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showed 59% of Americans supported a timetable for withdrawal, with 33% opposed.

But given that the strategy of Congressional Democrats is to pressure Republicans to separate themselves from the president on Iraq, a key question is this: what is the level of voter support for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in a particular Congressional District? If the district in question is represented by a Republican, it's likely that it's more Republican than the country as a whole, and therefore more supportive of President Bush and less supportive of a timetable for withdrawal than the country as a whole.

In general, such polling data doesn't exist by Congressional district. MoveOn commissioned a poll of 50 competitive Congressional Districts, which found over two-thirds support getting most troops out by early 2008.

But, although it gives a strong indication, it still doesn't tell you what's happening in an individual district.

Short of commissioning your own poll -- contact your local university -- you can construct an estimate, because the Pew poll tracked responses by party affiliation, and you can easily estimate party affiliation in your Congressional District.

Here is the breakdown of the Pew poll by party affiliation. 77% of Democrats wanted their representative to support a bill with an Iraq troop pullout by August 2008, with 16% opposed. 34% of Republicans supported, 59% opposed. 61% of Independents supported, with 32% opposed.

Now, to estimate the Republican/Democratic breakdown of your district, one way would be to use the 2004 Presidential election. This should overstate how Republican your district is, since the country has trended Democratic since then. So, in using this to construct your estimate of support for Iraq withdrawal, it should result in an underestimate. This means if you can claim a majority in your district on this basis, you should be on solid ground.

Go to the map at cqpolitics.com and select your district. It gives you the Bush/Kerry outcome from 2004.

In March Pew gave party identification as 50% Democratic, 35% Republican. Let's call the other 15% Independents. If you match this against the Pew poll on Iraq withdrawal the numbers sum correctly. Assume that your Congressional District also has 15% Independents, with the ratio between Republicans and Democrats given by the 2004 Bush/Kerry result. So, scale the Bush/Kerry numbers for your district so they add up to 85%. Then, weight the Pew results according to the partisan breakdown of your district.

I'll use Illinois' 15th Congressional District as an example. Its Representative, Tim Johnson, was one of the 17 House Republicans who voted for the resolution against the "surge."

The Bush/Kerry result in IL15 was Bush 58%, Kerry 41%. Clearly, a Republican district.

Assuming 15% Independents, IL15 is 50% Republican, 35% Democratic, 15% Independents.

Assuming that these Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are like their national counterparts, if the Pew poll on Iraq withdrawal had been conducted in Illinois 15th District, the outcome would have been 53% in favor of a timetable for Iraq withdrawal, 40% opposed. Although this is clearly a Republican district, there is good reason to believe that a majority support a timetable from withdrawal from Iraq.

In the comments, I welcome you to post the results of your own "armchair poll" for your Congressional District, as well as any suggestions you have of open sources for improving the estimate.