Opinions of Iraq War Show Little Movement

by Joseph Carroll

Just one in three say U.S. troop surge has made things better

PRINCETON, NJ -- Despite more positive news reports about the situation in Iraq, including reports of declining U.S. casualties in October, there has been little change in Americans' attitudes toward the war over the past month, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll. Only about one-third of Americans say the recent U.S. troop surge is making the situation in Iraq better, and the majority of Americans continue to say it was a mistake to send troops there in the first place. Although Americans are pessimistic about progress in the war, a slim majority still believe the United States is likely to win -- a slight improvement since mid-January, but similar to measures in early January and in 2006.

The Troop Surge

According to the Nov. 2-4, 2007, poll, 34% of Americans say the “recent surge of U.S. troops in Iraq” is making the situation there better, while nearly two in three say it is not making much difference (39%) or is actually making the situation worse (25%).

The public's assessment of the surge has not shown much change since August, but in April and July polls, Americans were slightly more negative in their assessments.

Views of the surge -- as is true of most attitudes about the war in Iraq -- vary by partisanship. The solid majority of Republicans, 62%, say the surge is making the situation in Iraq better. By comparison, the vast majority of independents (71%) and Democrats (80%) say the surge is not making much difference or is making the situation worse.

"Mistake" Trend

In October, 60% of Americans said sending troops to Iraq was a mistake, one of the highest measurements to date. The November update remains relatively high, at 58%. Thirty-nine percent of Americans currently say the United States did not make a mistake in sending troops.

The prevalence of the “mistake” view has changed little over the course of this year; percentages have ranged between 54% in early September and 62% in early July. The latter is the highest reading Gallup has recorded since the war began.

As has been the case since the war’s inception, Republicans are much more likely than independents or Democrats to support the war. In the latest poll, just 24% of Republicans say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, a sentiment that is substantially more widespread among independents (61%) and Democrats (79%).

Success?

Although Americans are not especially positive in their ratings of the current situation in Iraq or the war effort itself, they are still more optimistic than pessimistic about the United States’ chances of “winning” the war. A slim majority of Americans, 51%, say it is at least likely that the United States will win, with 19% saying victory is certain and 32% saying it is likely but not certain. Forty-one percent do not think the United States is likely to win -- including 21% who are certain the United States will not win and 20% who say victory is unlikely, though they are not certain of this.

Gallup has asked this question six times since the start of the war. Immediately after the United States invaded Baghdad in April 2003, more than 9 in 10 Americans said it was likely that the United States would win the war. When the question was next updated, in March 2006 -- three years after the start of the war -- opinions had become less positive, with just 54% saying victory was likely or certain. The results have been stable since that time.

The vast majority of Republicans maintain the belief that the United States is likely or certain to win in Iraq, while the majority of Democrats are of the view that the United States will not prevail. Independents' perceptions are similar to those of the general public.

U.S. Chances of Winning the War in Iraq
Results by Party ID
Nov. 2-4, 2007

 

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

 

%

%

%

Certain will win

32

17

14

Likely but not certain

40

36

21

Unlikely but not certain

9

23

23

Certain will not win

9

17

32

No opinion

9

7

10

 

 

 

 

Total win

72

53

35

Total not win

18

40

55

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,024 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 2-4, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

28. In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?

 

Yes

No

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

2007 Nov 2-4

58

39

3

2007 Oct 12-14

60

37

2

2007 Sep 14-16

58

41

1

2007 Sep 7-8

54

44

2

2007 Aug 3-5

57

42

2

2007 Jul 6-8

62

36

2

2007 Jun 1-3

56

40

4

2007 May 4-6

58

40

2

2007 Apr 13-15

57

41

2

2007 Mar 23-25

56

43

2

2007 Mar 2-4

59

39

2

2007 Feb 9-11

56

42

2

2007 Jan 12-14

58

41

2

2007 Jan 5-7

57

41

2

2006 Dec 8-10 ^

53

45

2

2006 Nov 2-5

55

40

5

2006 Oct 20-22

58

40

2

2006 Oct 6-8

56

40

4

2006 Sep 15-17

49

49

2

2006 Jul 28-30

54

45

2

2006 Jul 21-23

56

41

2

2006 Jun 23-25

55

43

1

2006 Jun 9-11

51

46

2

2006 Apr 7-9

57

42

1

2006 Mar 10-12 ^

57

42

1

2006 Feb 28-Mar 1

55

43

2

2006 Feb 9-12 ^

55

42

3

2006 Jan 20-22

51

46

3

2006 Jan 6-8 ^

50

47

3

2005 Dec 16-18

52

46

2

2005 Dec 9-11

48

50

2

2005 Nov 11-13 ^

54

45

1

2005 Oct 28-30

54

45

1

2005 Oct 21-23

49

49

2

2005 Sep 16-18

59

39

2

2005 Sep 8-11

53

46

1

2005 Aug 28-30

53

46

1

2005 Aug 5-7 ^

54

44

2

2005 Jul 22-24

46

53

1

2005 Jun 24-26

53

46

1

2005 Apr 29-May 1 ^

49

48

3

2005 Mar 18-20 ^

46

51

3

2005 Feb 25-27

47

51

2

2005 Feb 4-6

45

55

*

2005 Jan 14-16

52

47

1

2005 Jan 7-9

50

48

2

2004 Nov 19-21

47

51

2

2004 Oct 29-31 ^

44

52

4

2004 Oct 22-24

47

51

2

2004 Oct 14-16

47

52

1

2004 Oct 9-10 ^

46

53

1

2004 Oct 1-3

48

51

1

2004 Sep 24-26

42

55

3

2004 Sep 3-5 ^

38

57

5

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

48

50

2

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

47

51

2

2004 Jul 19-21

50

47

3

2004 Jul 8-11

54

45

1

2004 Jun 21-23

54

44

2

2004 Jun 3-6

41

58

1

2004 May 7-9

44

54

2

2004 Apr 16-18

42

57

1

2004 Jan 12-15

42

56

2

2003 Nov 3-5

39

60

1

2003 Oct 6-8

40

59

1

2003 Jul 7-9

27

72

1

2003 Mar 24-25

23

75

2

 

 

 

 

* Less than 0.5%

^ Asked of a half sample

29. (Asked of a half sample) Based on what you have heard or read about the recent surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, do you think the increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is -- [ROTATED: making the situation there better, not making much difference, or is it making the situation there worse]?

BASED ON 506 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

Better

Not making
much difference

Worse

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Nov 2-4 ^

34

39

25

2

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Sep 14-16

35

43

21

1

2007 Sep 7-8

32

44

19

5

2007 Aug 3-5

31

41

24

4

2007 Jul 6-8 ^

22

51

25

2

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample

Trends for Comparison : Based on what you have heard or read about the recent surge of U.S. troops in Baghdad, do you think the increase in the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad is -- [ROTATED: making the situation there better, not making much difference, or is it making the situation there worse]?

 

Better

Not making
much difference

Worse

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Jul 6-8 ^

17

49

30

3

2007 Apr 13-15

26

41

29

4

2007 Mar 23-25

29

43

22

5

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample

30. (Asked of a half sample) Which comes closest to your view about the war with Iraq -- [ROTATED: you are certain that the U.S. will win, you think it is likely that the U.S. will win, but you are not certain, you think it is unlikely that the U.S. will win, but you are not certain, (or) you are certain that the U.S. will NOT win]?

BASED ON 518 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Certain
will win

Likely
but not
certain

Unlikely
but not
certain

Certain
will not
win

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2007 Nov 2-4 ^

19

32

20

21

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Jan 12-14

17

30

27

22

4

2007 Jan 5-7

16

34

28

18

4

2006 Mar 10-12

22

32

25

16

6

2003 Apr 5 †

79

17

1

--

3

2003 Mar 29-30

69

25

3

1

2

 

^ Asked of a half sample

† Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

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