William Kelly
(402) 472-9333

Nebraskans seem more supportive of the U.S. involvement in Iraq than most Americans, while splitting on issues of world trade. Those are the key results of a survey done by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center in conjunction with the Nebraska ETV Network (NETV).

The way Nebraskans view the world is being examined and compared to the opinions of people in the rest of the country as part of a national dialogue. Eighty-five Nebraska residents were among about 700 scientifically selected citizens from ten different communities who voiced their collective opinions on matters of U.S. national and economic security after a day of Citizen Deliberations in Kearney on Jan. 24. In Nebraska, discussions were sponsored by NETV, the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ “By the People.”

Excerpts from the Nebraska dialogue at UNK and those from the nine other sites around the country will be the subject of a national “By the People” program that airs Thursday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. CT (7 MT) on NETV. More results of the dialogue will be broadcast in upcoming weeks as part of “Statewide,” the NETV’s award-winning weekly news journal. NETV was one of ten Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations selected to host discussions as part of the “By The People” project.

After a day of learning about issues related to America’s role in the world and discussing them among themselves and with a bipartisan panel of experts, the randomly selected participants in Nebraska and in the other communities completed surveys to measure their opinions about America’s security interests, the intervention in Iraq, and trade policies in a global economy. The group discussed the major trade-offs and priorities facing the nation, and considered the relationship between U.S. interests and those of other countries.

According to a report on the “By the People” survey results interpreted by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, Nebraska respondents were strikingly more satisfied and supportive of the war in Iraq and the war on terror than were respondents from the other communities.

“One of our discussion leaders told me that participants in a citizen group agreed that the U.S. might need to be preemptive in our foreign policy, but they were concerned about us acting alone. The idea here is that Nebraskans are more forgiving of America acting on its own than other ‘By the People’ participants in the nine other communities, but we are still concerned about acting without our allies,” said University of Nebraska Public Policy Director Alan Tomkins.

Nebraskans had less uniformity in their opinions regarding free trade. Since Nebraskans didn’t always agree with one another on trade issues, overall, the group of survey participants only partially supported the Bush Administration’s policy. According to the report, this perspective on economic issues more closely reflected that of the national sample, with the exception of the use of subsidies and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to support American industry.

“In the free trade area, Nebraskans had diverse views. For example, while they are supportive of subsidies and tariffs, almost half of the participants indicated they were not supportive of the Cuban trade embargo. A similar percentage believed that foreign countries should be required to accept genetically modified food products,” said Tomkins. More results of survey are available on the NU Public Policy Center Web site at

“Statewide” airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. CT (6:30 MT) on NETV. The program repeats Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. CT (6:30 MT) and Sundays at noon CT (11 MT) on Nebraska ETV. The series also repeats on NETV2 Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. CT (8:30 MT), Sundays at 8:30 a.m. CT (7:30 MT) and Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. CT (12:30 MT).

“By the People” plans to convene another round of Citizen Deliberations in October, just before the 2004 presidential election. That round will occur in about 30 locations around the country and will include some 3,000 participants. “By the People” is a creation of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions with major funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“By The People” program contact: William Kelly, 402-472-9333, ext. 484, or e-mail
“By The People” survey results: Alan Tomkins, 402-472-5688 or e-mail
Peter Longo, 402-472-865-8041
Release written by: Kim Rogers, 402-472-9333, ext. 512, or e-mail