Who Says It Was a Mistake to Send Troops to Iraq?
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
by Joseph Carroll
One of Gallup's basic measures to gauge public support for the war in Iraq asks Americans whether it was a mistake to send troops to that country. This question structure dates back to the Korean War. The latest results, taken from an Oct. 28-30 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, shows that a majority of Americans, 54%, say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, while 45% say it was not.
In January, Gallup found results similar to those in the most recent poll, with more Americans saying it was a mistake (52%) to send troops than saying it was not a mistake (47%). That changed when Americans became much more positive about the situation in Iraq after the late January elections in that country, with the majority (55%) then saying it was not a mistake and 45% saying it was.
From March through the end of July, the public was more closely divided in its view of the war, with the percentage saying it was a mistake ranging from 46% to 53%. Since August, Gallup has found a majority of Americans saying it was a mistake in every poll, with the exception of Gallup's Oct. 21-23 poll, which showed Americans evenly divided. That poll was conducted soon after Iraqis voted on their new constitution.
Support for the War by Subgroups
To more closely examine the nature of support and opposition to the war in Iraq, Gallup combined the results of its past six surveys, from August through the end of October, to provide a large sample of more than 5,000 respondents. Across these six polls, 54% say the war was a mistake, while 45% say that it was not.
One of the most striking, albeit predictable, differences follows partisan lines. Only one in five Republicans (20%) say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. This compares with 6 in 10 independents (59%) and 8 in 10 Democrats (80%) who share this point of view.
Another major difference in support appears between whites and blacks. Whites are divided in their views of the war, with 50% saying it was a mistake and 49% saying it was not. Among blacks, 79% view it as a mistake, while just 21% say it was not a mistake.
Americans residing in the eastern parts of the country are more likely than those living elsewhere to say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. Sixty percent of Easterners say it was a mistake to send troops, while 54% of Midwesterners, 48% of Southerners, and 53% of Westerners say it was a mistake.
A majority of younger Americans (55% of 18- to 29-year-olds) and older Americans (54% of 50- to 64-year-olds and 59% of those aged 65 and older) feel it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. Americans in the 30- to 49-year-old age group are divided in their views of the war, with 50% saying it was a mistake and 49% saying it was not.
The data also show a slight gender difference, with women (56%) modestly more inclined to say it was a mistake than men (51%).
Americans living in higher-income households ($75,000 or more per year) are slightly more positive than negative in their assessments of the war, with 48% saying it was a mistake and 51% saying it was not. These results are more negative among lower-income households, with the "mistake" percentage at 52% for those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, and at 62% for those earning less than $30,000 per year.