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   from the issue of October 14, 2004

'By the People' results show support for Kerry

Lincoln and Lancaster County residents think John Kerry would do better at creating jobs, George W. Bush would better handle the war on terrorism, and American companies should be penalized for sending jobs to other countries.

The results are the latest from Lincoln's participation in a national civic engagement project, "By the People." In results released Oct. 9, the same randomly sampled residents indicated they plan to vote for Kerry by a 53 percent to 32 percent margin and oppose expanded gambling in Nebraska by a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent.

"These results are significant for Nebraska, which most political observers place solidly in President Bush's column," said Alan Tomkins, director of the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. "Our representative sample plans to vote for John Kerry and thinks he'd do a better job with the economy. They also seem to agree more with his views on outsourcing than they do with President Bush's. However, they support the president's handling of the war on terrorism."

Results show participants think Kerry would be better at creating jobs than President Bush, 56 percent to 38 percent. But participants think Bush would be better at handling the war on terrorism, 52 percent to 46 percent over Kerry. Seventy-two percent of respondents think companies should be punished for outsourcing jobs; 17 percent disagree.

The Public Policy Center and Nebraska Educational Television coordinated "By the People" in Lincoln for its main sponsor, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions of PBS. Lincoln is one of 17 cities across the United States that will have participated by next weekend. "By the People" projects nationwide use Deliberative Polling, a survey technique aimed at determining what people's political preferences and attitudes would be if they were more fully informed on the issues. Stanford University Professor James Fishkin conceived the technique and has used it more than 20 times in the United States and abroad.

The technique involves polling a random sample of people by telephone in the usual fashion, then asking them to gather in one place to deliberate about political and policy issues. Participants receive balanced, nonpartisan and informative briefing materials; talk about the issues in randomly assigned small groups; then ask questions of a plenary panel of experts. Lincoln's panel included Nebraska Adjutant Gen. Roger Lempke; Sen. Ben Nelson's state director, Don Nelson; and Yale University historian Paul Kennedy.

Special airs Oct. 21

"Time to Choose: A 'By the People' Special" will air at 10 p.m. Oct. 21 on the Nebraska ETV Network.

Excerpts from the "By The People" gathering in Lincoln on Oct. 9 are expected to be included in this broadcast. These Nebraskans joined nearly 2,000 Americans in 17 cities across the country, all of whom were drawn from random samples of citizens in each community. All of the deliberation participants engaged in a daylong dialogue about what is at stake in the upcoming presidential election. The goal of the event was to illustrate public opinion at large during this presidential election.



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