Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Survey Finds Iraqis Generally Positive About Their Country and Future

Greenberg Quinland Rosner Research, working for the National Democratic Institute, conducted the latest survey in Iraq at the end of 2010. From September to November, the company surveyed 2,000 Iraqis face-to-face. The report was meant to cover all of Iraq’s 18 provinces, but because of security and time constraints it was unable to conduct interviews in Dohuk, Muthanna, and Maysan, which together represent roughly 6.6% of Iraq’s population. It was able to poll 489 people in Baghdad, 546 in western Iraq (Anbar, Diyala, Ninewa, Salahaddin, Tamim), 696 in southern Iraq (Basra, Babil, Qadisiyah, Najaf, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Karbala), and 269 people in northern Iraq (Sulaymaniya, Irbil). Iraq’s minorities (Christians, Turkmen, Sabean Mandeans, and Yazidis) were over sampled in the study, making up 1,200 respondents, and were broken up into four groups, pro-Kurdish Christians in Irbil, pro-Arab Christians in Mosul, Yazidis in Irbil, and Sabean Mandeans in Baghdad. That could’ve skewed the final results on certain questions as minorities have faced severe persecution since the 2003 invasion. The final survey had a +/- 2.19% margin of error. Overall, the study found that Iraqis were relatively optimistic about their futures.

Participants were first asked what direction they thought Iraq was going in. People were split down the middle with 45% saying it was going in the right direction, and 44% saying the opposite. Shiites had the most positive views with 59% saying the country was going in the right direction, and 31% saying the wrong, while only 7% of Yazidis thought Iraq was heading the right way. Christians, 19%, western Iraq, 25%, Turkmen, 28%, and Sunnis, 37%, also had overwhelmingly negative views, compared to southern Iraq, 57%, Sabean Mandeans, 51%, and northern Iraq, 50%, who were more optimistic. The Sabeans, who are followers of John the Baptist, were the only minority group who thought Iraq was doing well. In June, the International Republican Institute did its own poll, which found 59% of respondents thought Iraq was going in the wrong direction, and in an earlier December 2009 poll 51% felt that way. Another survey funded by ABC, BBC, and NHK news in March 2009 found that 58% thought the country was doing good.

Do you think that things in Iraq are going in the right or wrong direction?
Total 45% Right, 44% Wrong
Shiites 59% Right, 31% Wrong
Southern Iraq 57% Right, 39% Wrong
Sabean Mandeans 51% Right, 45% Wrong
Northern Iraq 50% Right, 37% Wrong
Kurds 49% Right, 38% Wrong
Baghdad 48% Right, 38% Wrong
Sunnis 37% Right, 56% Wrong
Turkmen 28% Right, 67% Wrong
Western Iraq 25% Right, 60% Wrong
Christians 19% Right, 64% Wrong
Yazidis 7% Right, 92% Wrong

When asked about specific issues the survey found mixed responses as well. On the one hand, education, 66%, security, 58%, water supply, 56%, and health care, 51%, were all seen as improving over the last year, while the cost of living, 47%, electricity, 47%, and job opportunities, 42%, were more evenly split. Housing, 47% worse, and corruption 56% worse, were at the opposite end of the spectrum. Those results were in stark contrast to the Republican Institute’s findings, which had 60% thinking electricity had gotten worse, and 63% feeling the same way about unemployment.

Are these issues getting better or worse?
Education 66% Better, 26% Worse
Security 58% Better, 31% Worse
Water Supply 56% Better, 33% Worse
Health Care 51% Better, 36% Worse
Cost of Living 47% Better, 44% Worse
Electricity 47% Better, 44% Worse
Jobs Opportunities 42% Better, 48% Worse
Conditions for Women 41% Better, 26% Worse
Housing 26% Better, 47% Worse
Corruption 23% Better, 56% Worse

Improvements in services, the economy, and corruption were also seen dramatically different by region. In western Iraq, not a single issue was seen as improving. Security and water had the highest positive responses, but even then, only 32% thought they were getting better. In comparison, the Kurds felt everything was improving except for jobs and corruption.

Western Iraq on whether issues were getting better or worse
Security 32% Better, 55% Worse
Water 32% Better, 52% Worse
Electricity 28% Better, 62% Worse
Cost of Living 25% Better, 67% Worse
Country’s direction 25% Right, 60% Wrong
Economy 24% Better, 49% Worse
Jobs 23% Better, 70% Worse
Housing 15% Better, 62% Worse

Northern Iraq on whether issues were getting better or worse
Security 89% Better, 8% Worse
Water 77% Better, 21% Worse
Electricity 75% Better, 18% Worse
Health Care 67% Better, 28% Worse
Cost of Living 59% Better, 34% Worse
Education 59% Better, 34% Worse
Housing 51% Better, 33% Worse
Jobs 40% Better, 56% Worse
Corruption 22% Better, 53% Worse

In fact, this would be the first study that found people having a relatively even view about their power supply. When broken down by region, Baghdad, northern Iraq, and the south all felt that electricity was getting better, but only marginally in the south, while western Iraq thought it was overwhelmingly getting worse.

Is the electricity supply getting better or worse?
Total 47% Better, 44% Worse
Northern Iraq 67% Better, 18% Worse
Baghdad 54% Better, 36% Worse
Southern Iraq 48% Better, 45% Worse
Western Iraq 28% Better, 62% Worse

When asked about their electricity supply, around two-thirds said they received six hours or more a day. Overall, 53% claimed they got 6-10 hours of power per day, and 23% had 10 hours or more. By region, Kurdistan had the best response with 92% saying they had six hour or more of power. That’s largely because the Kurds have successfully built three privately owned power plants to boost their capacity. Baghdad was next with 80% saying they had six hours or more, and southern Iraq was at the bottom with 70% having six hours or more.

On Average how many hours of electricity does your household get each day from the national grid?
Total 21% Less than 5 hours, 53% 6-10 hours, 23% 10 hours or more
North 4% Less than 5 hours, 31% 6-10 hours, 61% 10 hours or more
Baghdad 19% Less than 5 hours, 51% 6-10 hours, 29% 10 hours or more
West 20% Less than 5 hours, 65% 6-10 hours, 9% 10 hours or more
South 31% Less than 5 hours, 54% 6-10 hours, 16% 10 hours or more

For water, the majority thought that the situation was getting better, but in terms of actual supply it was still spotty. Overall, 56% thought the water supply was getting better, with northern Iraq, 77%, and the south, 68%, at the top, and the west, 32%, at the bottom. When asked how often did they get clean water in their house however, 25% said mostly, 54% said sometimes, and 19% said rarely. In Kurdistan 35% said mostly, which tied them with Baghdad at the top, but at the same time, 37% said they received clean water rarely, the highest percentage in the nation.

Is water supply getting better or worse by region?
Total 56% Better, 33% Worse
North 77% Better, 21% Worse
South 68% Better, 21% Worse
Baghdad 55% Better, 32% Worse
West 32% Better, 52% Worse

How often does your household have access to clean water?
Total 25% Mostly, 54% Sometimes, 19% Rarely
Baghdad 35% Mostly, 61% Sometimes, 4% Rarely
North 35% Mostly, 27% Sometimes, 37% Rarely
South 26% Mostly, 59% Sometimes, 14% Rarely
West 10% Mostly 53% Sometimes, 31% Rarely

All parts of the country felt that education was getting better. 66% said schooling was improving. 50% or more in every region responded the same way. The number of students in school has greatly increased since 2003.  

Is education getter better or worse by region?
Total 66% Better, 26% Worse
South 79% Better, 16% Worse
North 75% Better, 16% Worse
Baghdad 58% Better, 33% Worse
West 50% Better, 41% Worse

A slight majority also felt that health care was improving, led by northern and southern Iraq. 51% said health care was better, with 36% saying it was worse. Northern Iraq, 67%, and southern Iraq, 66%, were the most positive, while western Iraq was the most pessimistic at 29%.

Health care getting better or worse by region?
Total 51% Better, 36% Worse
North 67% Better, 28% Worse
South 66% Better, 24% Worse
Baghdad 46% Better, 38% Worse
West 29% Better, 53% Worse

Respondents were rather cynical about corruption improving in Iraq. 23% said it would get better, while 56% felt it would get worse. The south was the most optimistic with 34% thinking that the situation could improve, while only 15% felt that way in western Iraq.

Is corruption getting better or worse by region
Total 23% Better, 56% Worse
South 34% Better, 52% Worse
North 22% Better, 53% Worse
Baghdad 18% Better, 50% Worse
West 15% Better, 70% Worse

Services like electricity, schooling, and health care, along with corruption have become leading issues in Iraq because security has improved so much. When asked whether security was getting better or worse, 58% said the former. That compared to 73% who said it was improving in the June Republican Institute poll. The difference between the two is the result of the large number of minorities used in the Greenberg Quinland Rosner survey, and the many attacks they have suffered over the years. 62%-68% of Christians, Turkmen, and Yazidis for example, thought security was getting worse. Iraqis also felt confident that things would not get worse when the U.S. withdrew with 67% saying that security would actually get better.

Is security getting better or worse in Iraq?
Total 58% Better, 31% Worse
North 89% Better, 9% Worse
South 75% Better, 19% Worse
Baghdad 48% Better, 35% Worse
West 32% Better, 55% Worse

Is security getting better or worse for minorities?
National 58%, 31% Worse
Sabean Mandeans 30% Better, 40% Worse
Yazidis 28% Better, 68% Worse
Turkmen 28% Better, 64% Worse
Christians 18% Better, 62% Worse

Will security improve or deteriorate when U.S. military leaves?
67% Improve
17% Deteriorate

In terms of personal security, every region felt overwhelmingly safe. In total 86% of those asked said they were safe in their own neighborhood. Northern Iraq was the most positive at 99%, closely followed by the south at 97%. It’s no surprise that those are the areas with the least amount of attacks. Baghdad had the lowest results, and even then, 75% said they were safe in their own area.

Do you feel safe or unsafe in your neighborhood?
Total 86% Safe, 13% Unsafe
North 99% Safe, 1% Unsafe
South 97% Safe, 3% Unsafe
West 77% Safe, 22% Unsafe
Baghdad 75% Safe, 23% Unsafe

Unsurprisingly, the pollsters found that many minorities felt threatened and discriminated against within Iraq. Only one-fifth to a little over one-third said that their conditions were getting better in the country led by Sabean Mandeans at 38%, Turkmen at 31%, Christians at 28%, and Yazidis at 18%. At the same time, Yazidis, 71%, Sabeans, 58%, and Christians, 47%, believed that their situation would improve, with only Turkmen, 29%, largely disagreeing. Two-thirds or more of each group felt uncomfortable outside their own neighborhoods. Many Christians, 72%, and Sabeans, 44%, knew someone who had been physically attacked, while Yazidis, 69%, and Sabeans, 54%, felt the most discriminated against. Despite those difficulties, 48% or more of minorities said that they thought Iraq was a good place to raise a family, and a majority of Christians, 54%, Sabeans, 69%, and Yazidis, 77%, felt that they had a good chance at prosperity in the country compared with other Iraqis. Turkmen were the only exception with 36% saying they had a good chance in the nation. Integrating minorities into the security forces, making ethnosectarian and political hiring illegal, setting up quotas to hire minorities, and improving security were all seen as top priorities for the country to address.

Are conditions for minorities getting better or worse in Iraq?
Sabeans 38% Better, 33% Worse
Turkmen 31% Better, 35% Worse
Christians 28% Better, 55% Worse
Yazidis 18% Better, 74% Worse

Are minority rights likely to improve or never?
Yazidis 71% Likely, 20% Never
Sabeans 58% Likely, 32% Never
Christians 47% Likely, 36% Never
Turkmen 29% Likely, 25% Never

Do you or someone you know well feel uncomfortable outside your neighborhood?
Turkmen 83% Yes, 13% No
Christians 71% Yes, 25% No
Yazidis 68% Yes, 31% No
Sabean Mandeans 67% Yes, 27% No

Do you or someone you know well ever been attacked physically?
Christians 72% Yes, 23% No
Sabean Mandeans 44% Yes, 54% No
Turkmen 21% Yes, 72% No
Yazidis 12% Yes, 88% No

Have you or someone you know well ever been discriminated against?
Yazidis 69% Yes, 31% No
Sabeans 54% Yes, 45% No
Turkmen 26% Yes, 74% No
Christians 25% Yes, 75% No

Is Iraq a good or difficult place to raise a minority family?
Sabean 71% Good, 24% Difficult
Christians 61% Good, 28% Difficult
Yazidis 61% Good, 35% Difficult
Turkmen 48% Good, 9% Difficult

Generally speaking does a minority have a good or less chance at prosperity compared with other Iraqis
Yazidis 77% Good Chance, 15% Less of a Chance
Sabean 69% Good Chance, 27% Less of a Chance
Christians 54% Good Chance, 28% Less of a Chance
Turkmen 36% Good Chance, 9% Less of a Chance

List some issues that would increase support for the new government
Integrate more minorities into security forces Christians 73%, Turkmen 86%, Sabeans 88%, Yazidis 99%
Make it illegal to hire based upon ethnosectarianism or political affiliations Sabeans 72%, Christians 73%, Turkmen 75%, Yazidis 92%
Introduce mandatory quotas to hire minorities Christians 65%, Turkmen 84%, Sabeans 93%, Yazidis 98%
Allow local government administration by minorities in minority areas Turkmen 35%, Yazidis 45%, Christians 55%, Sabeans 72%
Create an autonomous minority region Turkmen 24%, Christians 26%, Yazidis 46%, Sabeans 54%
Listing issues, pick two that are most the important for the government to address?
Security: Christians 53%, Sabeans 54%, Turkmen 59%, Yazidis 73%
Jobs and Unemployment: Sabeabs 40%, Yazidis 40%, Christians 43%, Turkmen 55%
Sectarianism: Turkmen 13%, Christians 20%, Sabeans 45%, Yazidis 50%
Basic Services: Yazidis 8%, Turkmen 17%, Sabeans 18%, Christians 29%
Corruption: Christians 17%, Sabeans 18%, Yazidis 20%, Turkmen 22%
Iraqis were optimistic about the economy as well. 46% said the economy was strong, and 48% thought that their personal finances would improve within the year. 62% of those in northern Iraq and 61% of those in southern Iraq thought their situation would get better, while western Iraq was the only region where people thought their status would get worse. That corresponded with 48% saying jobs would get worse. When given a list of security, services, economy, etc. to pick from 56% said jobs and unemployment were the biggest issue to address. That was a stark difference from the Republican National Institute survey that found 66% were most concerned about services, and only 8% said unemployment. Southern Iraq at 65% was the only region in the current study that thought jobs were getting better, while only 23% in western Iraq felt that way. Finally, when asked what could be done to improve things, bringing in more foreign oil companies and diversifying the economy had the most responses.

Is Iraq’s economy strong or weak today?
46% Strong
38% Weak

In the next 12 months will your household finances get better or worse?
Total 48% Better, 26% Worse
North 62% Better, 22% Worse
South 61% Better, 21% Worse
Baghdad 47% Better, 31% Worse
West 24% Better, 30% Worse

Out of a list of issues, which two are the most important for the government to address?
Jobs and unemployment 56%
Security 36%
Services 29%
Corruption 22%
High prices 12%
Sectarianism 11%
Education 10%
Infrastructure 10%
Health care 8%

Will jobs getter better or worse?
Total 42% Better, 48% Worse
South 65% Better, 29% Worse
North 40% Better, 56% Worse
Baghdad 31% Better 48% Worse
Christians 27% Better, 61% Worse
Turkmen 25% Better, 71% Worse
Sabeans 25% Better, 47% Worse
West 23% Better, 70% Worse
Yazidis 17% Better, 78% Worse

Out of a list of things some say are needed to improve Iraq’s economy which two things are most important?
Bring more foreign oil companies to develop oil fields 33%
Develop non-oil industries 31%
Incentives for companies to hire more employees 28%
Infrastructure development 26%
Access to loans for small businesses 25%
Provide subsidies to help Iraqi farmers 24%
Provide incentives to attract foreign investors 12%
Reduce red tap required to start businesses 8%

Iraqis also had mixed views about their country’s government. 44% thought Iraq was a real democracy, while 35% thought otherwise. 58% said they would likely vote in the next parliamentary elections. Southern and northern Iraq were the most positive, likely due to the fact that elections have led to a Shiite led government, and the Kurds created their own legislature before the U.S. invasion. In fact, 84% thought Kurdistan was going in the right direction, and 85% approved of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Sunnis, Yazidis, and Christians felt the opposite about the national government. A clear majority, 61%, also saw democracy as improving their quality of life and services.

Is Iraq a real democracy or not?
Total 44% Real, 35% Not
North 65% Real, 22% Not
Kurds 62% Real, 26% Not
Shiite 59% Real, 30% Not
South 58% Real, 29% Not
Turkmen 43% Real, 38% Not
Sabean Mandeans 43% Real, 50% Not
Baghdad 38% Real, 43% Not
Sunni 35% Real, 38% Not
West 22% Real, 41% Not
Christians 14% Real, 56% Not
Yazidis 4% Real, 90% Not

Likely or not to vote in the next parliamentary elections?
Total 58% Likely, 42% Not Likely
Kurds 80% Likely, 20% Not Likely
Shiite 63% Likely, 37% Not Likely
Sunni 48% Likely, 52% Not Likely

Do you think that Kurdistan is going in the right or wrong direction?
84% Right
9% Wrong

Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Kurdistan Regional Government is doing?
85% Approve
13% Disapprove

Would making Iraq more democratic make services and quality of life better or worse
Total 61% Better, 20% Worse
Yazidis 94% Better, 4% Worse
South 75% Better, 14% Worse
Christians 74% Better, 4% Worse
North 70% Better, 14% Worse
Turkmen 66% Better, 12% Worse
Sabean Mandeans 66% Better, 28% Worse
Baghdad 50% Better, 23% Worse
West 48% Better, 27% Worse

Several surveys done of Iraqis since the end of the sectarian civil war in 2007 have shown that people are feeling more positive about their lives and futures. There are still wide differences between regions and groups. This report highlights that with its extensive polling of minorities, and the Sunni region of western Iraq generally feeling less optimistic than the other major groups in the nation. Still, the overall opinion seemed to be that security, the economy, services, and democracy were all going in the right direction. As the recent demonstrations that are breaking out attest to, the government has to deliver development and growth now that things are more stable. Otherwise, the public could turn on them or become more cynical and drop out of participating, either of which could undermine the fragile gains made recently.


BBC, ABC, NHK, “Iraq Poll February 2009,” 3/16/09

Farbman, Rob, “IIACSS poll shows Iraqis mostly optimistic as 2010 begins,” Edison Research, 1/6/10

Greenberg Quinland Rosner Research, “Iraq’s Democracy at a Crossroad,” 12/15/10

International Republican Institute, “Survey of Iraqi Public Opinion, June 3 – July 3, 2010,” 9/16/10

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 1/30/11

5. http://www.sigir.mil/publications/quarterlyreports/January2011.html


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this interesting polling data. However, I thought you'd want to know that you seem to have scrambled some of the results of the polling of minorities (for example the questions related to proposals the minorities support). I think the issue is because NDI listed the groups in one order along the top but drew the bars in the reverse order. I would have emailed about this but couldn't find your address on the site. I enjoy reading your blog. Sincerely, Elizabeth Cassidy, USCIRF (ecassidy@uscirf.gov)

Joel Wing said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I think I fixed the two questions that I mixed up.

Anonymous said...


Is this survey a joke? If Iraqis are so optimistic about their future, why they are protesting all over the coiutry against lack of services, unemployment and corruption? And how the can be so optimistic with the formation of the new government took about 9 months?

One more thing: At least for electricity, I recknoned that this survey as well as the BBC survey were conducted in September - October and March 2010 respectively when the electrical power consumption, and hence power cuts, is at minimum. Let them try to do these surveys in July - August or in January!

Joel Wing said...


The survey was done from Sep. to Nov. 2010. In general terms the poll follows pervious ones done since 2009 that show peole getting more optomistic. You have to look at in terms of the last couple years. No longer is the country being torn apart by civil war. Complaining about your water supply and worried about getting killed or kidnap are two totally different concerns, so while people may be mad that the government isn't meeting their demands for services, that isn't the same as being worried that there is no one there to protect them from the chaos going on throughout the country.

I was surprised by the results for electricity as well, because as I noted, it would be the first ever to show people satisfied with their supply of power. One thing that might have skewed that result was the fact that not only did it interview Kurds, but Yazidis and Christians in Kurdistan as well, and that region has much better electricity than the rest of the country. As for corruption, only 23% overall thought it was improving.

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