American Public Positively View Human Rights Progress in Vietnam and Russia Over the Past Five Years

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Saudi Arabia and ChinaÂ?s Viewed Negatively by Public; EgyptÂ?s Efforts Barely Acceptable

A new poll conducted by Zogby International for The O’Leary Report and The John Tower Center at Southern Methodist University of 1,200 Americans with a margin of error of + 2.9% found that the American public favorably views Vietnam’s efforts on human rights by a margin of 40% to 32%. The public has a positive opinion of efforts made in Russia with 68% feeling that progress on human rights have been made to 23% who felt progress wasn’t made.

The poll found the Americans do not believe that progress is being made in Saudi Arabia by a margin of 56% to 27%. Egypt’s human rights progress was nearly evenly split in the opinion of Americans with 36% of Americans feeling progress was made and 35% saying no progress was made.

The poll shows China’s efforts are viewed unfavorably with a margin of 47% to 40%. A majority of Catholics, Protestant and Jewish voters share the view that China hasn’t made progress on human rights by margins of 50% to 40%, 50% to 37% and 62% to 21% respectively. Current members of the military and their families and veterans held majority opinions that human rights progress hasn’t been made by margins of 50% to 43% and 48% to 41%. Perhaps the most important finding is that America’s investor class feels no human rights progress was made by a margin of 52% to 41%. This finding stands in sharp contrast to the positive view the investor class has towards trade with Vietnam and the perception that progress was made with respect to human rights.

The poll found that 40% current and former members of the U.S. armed forces and their families had favorable impressions of the human rights progress being made in Vietnam over the past five years while only 32% had an unfavorable view. Fifty-six percent of those with an opinion on this question felt Vietnam had made progress on human rights. Similar favorable margins were evident among Catholics and Protestants. America’s investor class (those who invest in the stock market or have 401-K retirement plans) viewed Vietnam’s human rights progress favorably by a margin of 49% to 27% -- a finding of importance considering the country’s 80 million people and its emerging market economy.

The poll asked two other questions of importance to Vietnam:

1) “It has been 30 years since the end of the Vietnam War. Do you agree or disagree that it is time for the U.S. to put aside our past differences with Vietnam and begin an era of cooperation?”

Seventy-five percent of Americans agreed with this position.

Seventy-one percent of current military members and 70% of veterans agree that it’s time to put aside the past differences of the two countries. Seventy-five percent of the investor class felt the same way by a margin of 75% to 17%. In terms of ideology, 65% of Libertarians, 69% of conservatives, 76% of moderates, 83% of liberals and 96% of progressives agreed with this position. Ultra conservatives were the only ideological group to offer tepid support for this position with 48% in agreement.

2) “Vietnam and the U.S. recently signed a trade treaty. Our ambassadors there say that religious freedom exists and is growing. The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam says free markets and free enterprise are growing and expanding. However, some U.S. Congressmen and American Vietnamese say we should encourage more contact. Others say we should hold off on trade and other forms of aid to Vietnam until they grant more religious freedoms and hold multi-party elections. With which position are you more likely to agree?” This question was asked in response to efforts by two American Congressmen, Republican Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey and Democratic Representative Loretta Sanchez of California, both of whom tried to pass legislation to hold off aid until Vietnam grants more religious freedoms and hold multi-party elections. The American public rejected that premise by a margin of 49% to 44%.

Fifty-six percent of America’s investor class rejected Smith and Sanchez’s position while current members of the U.S. armed forces rejected that position by a margin of 54% to 37%. Republicans rejected this position by a margin of 49% to 42%.

Supporting the position of Smith and Sanchez are conservative and very conservative voters, those without a high school education or less, and Hispanic voters.

The poll shows the results pertaining to Russia were positive across the board with all segments of the American public responding positively to the end of the Communist party in Russia and the efforts of Putin and Yeltsin to encourage religious freedom and improve human rights. The Russian numbers clearly indicate this approval with a margin of 68% to 23%.

Those numbers are consistent across all classes of Americans including Catholics and Protestants, current and former members of the military, and the American investor class.

While Russia shows positive numbers, very conservative voters only believe progress is being made with a close margin of 41% to 39%.

About Zogby International, The Tower Center and The O’Leary Report

Zogby International (http://www.zogby.com) has been tracking public opinion since 1984 in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe and is a leader in the public opinion field and regularly conducts polling for Reuters and MSNBC.

Southern Methodist University’s The John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies (http://www.smu.edu/tower/) was established to support teaching and research programs in international studies and national security policy, focusing upon the institutions that structure national and international decision-making.

The O’Leary Report (http://www.olearyreport.com), authored by political veteran Brad O’Leary, began in 1997 as an outgrowth of the successful political newsletter, O’Leary/Kamber Report, that ran through much of the 1980s and 1990s. Brad O’Leary did point-counterpoint with Vic Kamber for USA Weekend and turned their newsletter into a weekly radio show on the NBC Mutual/Westwood One network for eight years. O’Leary and Kamber also published a popular series of point-counterpoint books entitled, “Are You a Republican or Democrat?” and “Are You a Conservative or a Liberal?” which were used by high schools and campuses across the nation to help educate students on the issues facing America. The O’Leary Report regularly surveys the American public on the issues of the day in cooperation with the polling firm of Zogby International.

The breakout of this latest poll as well as more details can be found on http://www.olearyreport.com after January 5, 2004.

For a copy of the cross tabs or arrange an interview related to the poll or this press release, please contact Clara Hickerson at 323-556-5600 x 109 / ClaraHickerson@aol.com.

Clara Hickerson

Director of Public Relations

323-556-5600 x109

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