WHERE DOES THE PUBLIC STAND ON A LIKELY BUSH VETO OF THE STEM CELL BILL?
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
In the Senate, stem cell proponents figure that they have 66 to 67 votes lined up in support of the funding bill passed today in the House. As I previously noted, a number of options are on the table to overcome an anticipated Bush veto of the bill, but where does public opinion stand on the matter?
Back in the summer, when Bush vetoed a similar version of the bill, only 32% of the public in a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll favored the action. Asked slightly differently by Gallup, only 36% said they approved of the decision. More recently, in a poll released Jan. 4 by the Civil Society Institute, 63% of respondents say that if Bush vetoes this latest version of the bill, Congress should vote to overturn the president's action.
Public sentiment has shifted considerably from 2001, as I have noted in this Web column and as I detailed in this study. Consider that the surveys taken in the days and weeks after Bush's August 9 televised stem cell speech indicate that the president's compromise decision appears to have been received favorably by a majority of Americans, as the polls were fairly consistent in showing between 50 percent and 60 percent support (table 17).
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