0112 poll results

The Free Press

A majority of online respondents say they support President Donald Trump’s actions against Iran, according to a Free Press online question.

Out of 2,748 total respondents, 2,332 voters — almost 85% — agreed with Trump’s recent authorization of a drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleiman. Another 416 disagreed.

The Free Press online question normally draws somewhere between 200 to 500 area respondents. This week’s online question garnered significantly more votes after it was shared on social media by local Republican party activists. As a result, numerous people from outside south-central Minnesota voted to show their support for Trump.

Only three of The Free Press’s online questions have garnered more than 1,000 respondents since the newspaper started the feature in 2010.

A question concerning Michele Bachmann’s future after she dropped her bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 garnered just over 3,000 votes, about two-thirds of which expressed disapproval of the former Congresswoman.

A question in September 2018 concerning whether Congress should pursue an impeachment inquiry into Trump garnered 2,381 votes. About 75% of those votes came after The Free Press published an article about the question, two days after it was published online, when the vote total was only 546.

Trump’s actions have proven divisive in a politically purple area of the U.S. Dozens of people gathered in St. Peter last week for an anti-war protest on the same day Trump defended his actions by saying Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” Trump has since expanded his defense by claiming Iran targeted four embassies, though senior members of his Cabinet including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper would confirm that information.

The Free Press online question, sent out Friday, asked, “Do you support President Donald Trump’s recent actions toward Iran?”

There were two options to answer, “yes” and “no.”

Commenters largely sided with the Trump administration, arguing the president was fulfilling his duty to protect the U.S. by killing a known threat in the Middle East. They also lambasted liberals for criticizing the president and questioning whether he had the authority to carry out war-like actions without congressional authorization.

“Some critics are saying there’s no evidence a terrorist attack was imminent (whatever ‘imminent’ means),” Marshel Rossow wrote. “So if the attacks were being planned for, say, May or June instead of January, it would have been OK to just let the bad guy go about his business a while longer? The old saying, ‘Strike while the iron’s hot,’ seems apropos. No matter what Trump’s critics might say, they can’t deny he permanently rid the Earth of one of its worst confirmed terrorists. Methodology aside, that can’t be all bad.”

Julie Quist wrote, “’Soleimani posed no imminent threat to anyone!’ Whoo boy! That’s a good one. Here’s something better: ‘Iran will not have nuclear weapons as long as I am president.’ Iran was terrorizing with impunity. They are not anymore, and nuclear weapons is no longer in their near term future. Thank you, Mr. president.”

Other commenters accused the media of anti-Trump bias. One commenter from Northfield thought criticisms of Trump was fueled by “fake news,” while others erroneously claimed The Free Press as an institution had a political agenda and likely wouldn’t publish the results of this week’s online question.

Some commenters opposed Trump’s actions concerning Iran, saying they were unconstitutional as Trump did not notify Congress before taking military action.

“The ‘yes’ comments reveal that regardless of what Trump does, his minions will approve, even when he breaks the law, as he did when he acted without authorization,” Mel Strand wrote.

Paul Brandon wrote, “I wonder how many people posting here have actually read the Constitution of the United States? It clearly assigns the power to make war to the Congress. The only exception would be an actual attack on American soil, in which case the president would have to immediately notify Congress and get its approval.”