Majority continue to believe U.S. made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq
PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are about evenly divided as to whether things are going "well" or "badly" for the United States in Iraq. Since the fall of 2008, Americans have been a bit more positive than negative in their evaluations, after being largely negative for most of the period from September 2003 to August 2008.
The July 8-11 poll was conducted as the United States continues to reduce its military presence in Iraq, in preparation for ending its combat operations there on Aug. 31.
It was not long ago -- January 2007 -- that positive perceptions of the way things are going in Iraq hit their all-time low of 28%. However, after the U.S. implemented a major surge in its forces in 2007, and began to see a reduction in violence later that year, Americans' evaluations of the situation in Iraq turned more positive. Americans gradually viewed the surge itself as making conditions in Iraq better rather than worse.
Republicans are more positive than Democrats about the United States' progress in Iraq, though the difference between these party groups is not huge. In fact, the partisan gap in assessments of the war has shrunk considerably over the past two years.
Most Continue to Oppose War
The poll finds 54% of Americans saying it was "a mistake" for the United States to send troops to Iraq, while 44% disagree. In most polls over the past five years, Gallup has found a majority calling the decision to send troops a mistake, with a high of 63% opposition in April 2008. In contrast, Gallup has yet to find a majority calling the war in Afghanistan a mistake.
Opposition to the war in Iraq has eased somewhat in the last two years as Americans have become more optimistic about how the U.S. has been doing in Iraq.
There continue to be large partisan differences in support for the war -- in the latest poll, 74% of Democrats say the war is a mistake, compared with 25% of Republicans. Fifty-seven percent of independents hold this view. These party gaps are typical of what Gallup has found in recent years. To the extent opposition has eased, it is evident mostly among Democrats and, to a lesser extent, independents.
The Iraq war remains unpopular with the majority of Americans, though in recent years there has been a growing belief that things are going better for the U.S. in Iraq than was the case before the surge of U.S. troops.
The Aug. 31 deadline for drawing U.S. troops down to 50,000 and handing over responsibility for maintaining security in Iraq marks a major turning point in the war. It is unclear whether this transition will alter Americans' views of the war.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.