Monday, July 20, 2009

Americans Think Iraq War A Mistake Even Though Feel Things Better Now

A recent Gallup poll of 1,018 Americans in July 2009 shows that while a majority of Americans think that things are going well in Iraq, about the same amount think that going to war was a mistake. From July 10-12, Gallop conducted a telephone poll of 1,018 Americans. They asked about their perceptions of the Iraq and Afghan invasions, and how they thought things were going now in both conflicts. 56% said things were going well in Iraq, while 58% said the war itself was a mistake.

In the first year and 3 months of the war, Americans perceived things as going well and the invasion worthwhile. In mid-2003 only 27% said the war was a mistake, and the public was almost evenly divided on their perceptions on how things were going with 52% saying things were good, and 47% seeing things going badly. From early 2004 to mid 2008 however, perceptions of Iraq turned negative peaking at 71% saying things were bad in January 2007. The same thing happened with opinions on whether the invasion was a mistake, going from 38% saying yes in mid-2004, to peaking at 63% saying yes in April 2008. Americans have continued to think badly of the invasion from then to the present day, despite a better view of the on-going conflict.

When broken down by political views, a majority of Republicans still think the war was worthwhile, while a majority of Democrats and Independents disagree. Only 26% of Republicans think the war was a mistake, while 59% of Independents and 78% of Democrats have the opposite view. This partisan difference is obviously due to the fact that a Republican administration initiated the war.

While Gallup thinks the more positive view of events in Iraq today are linked to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq’s cities that only occurred in June 2009 when opinion changed for the positive back in mid-2008. A more likely cause is the drop in violence and the dramatic decline in reporting about the war that began in 2007. That still has not reversed the generally negative view of the invasion. Unless there is a dramatic reversal of events, these views will probably persist until 2011 when combat troops are due to depart Iraq. Americans will think that the country has improved, but that the Bush Administration should’ve never invaded in the first place.


Newport, Frank, “Americans Upbeat on Progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gallup, 7/16/09

1 comment:

Jay said...

Could be read two ways- that Americans are capable of nuanced opinions, i.e. it went ok in the end but we still shouldn't have gone, or that Americans are willing to hold two contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time if reality conflicts with their politics.

The really ironic thing is that I think both of these readings are true.

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