It is the Abraham and Isaac story again -- if you say that you will obey God, would you then murder your own son, if you thought that God commands it? It is a line of questioning that probes for the exact spot where two values which are normally seen as complementary become contradictory. After all, in most circumstances, protecting one's children and serving God are not seen as competing goods. The resulting moral inquiry is conducted by constructing speculative hypothetical situations, trying to uncover the ultimate value.
Most people are pragmatists when it comes to morality. They know that there are few moral absolutes so clear that it is impossible to imagine violating it for a greater good. Thou shalt not steal, but what about a man stealing bread for his hungry children? Thou shalt not kill, but what about shooting a guy who has opened fire in a schoolyard? So polls will, I would think, exeggarate the number of people who will not rule out really awful actions, simply because they resist absolute rules. Pragmatic people keep all options on the table.
In order for pragmatism to work, one has to delve deeply into the concrete reality of every situation. One commentator on one of the blogs writes that he would torture and kill a three year old child to save the country. But that is not the question anyone faces. Now, people are being asked to look the other way when three year old children are damaged because a desperate, politically unpopular President with a history of poor judgement has determined that such damage to three year old children is an acceptable cost to saving his reputation and his party's chances in the next election cycle.