Americans Skeptical That Democracy Will Prevail in Iraq

by David W. Moore

Poll also updates public's preferences for 2008 presidential nominees

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- On the eve of the Iraqi parliamentary elections, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows skepticism among the American public about the likelihood of establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The poll, conducted Dec. 9-11, was completed just days before the Iraqi election began. Americans seem to recognize the importance of those elections, as well as the importance of a vote last October on a new constitution for the country: Sixty-three percent say that Iraq has made "real progress" toward establishing a democratic government in the past two years, while just 34% say the country has not.

Now thinking about the past two years, do you think Iraq has made real progress toward establishing a democratic government, or don't you think Iraq has made any progress in this area?

Yes, has made
real progress

No, not made
real progress

No
opinion

2005 Dec 9-11

63%

34

3

Despite the perception of progress, 55% of Americans think the United States ultimately will not be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq, while 41% think it will.

Do you think the United States will -- or will not -- be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq?

Yes, will

No, will not

No opinion

%

%

%

2005 Dec 9-11

41

55

4

2005 Oct 21-23

40

56

4

2005 Jul 22-24

37

58

5

2004 Nov 19-21

46

49

5

2004 Apr 16-18

37

57

6

The public's skepticism expressed in this latest poll is similar to that measured last October and July, and in April 2004.

The current poll suggests that the more attention people have paid to the upcoming elections in Iraq, the more optimistic they are about the long-term success of establishing a democratic form of government. Overall, 15% say they have been following the news about the election "very" closely, 43% "somewhat" closely, and 42% not closely -- including 28% who say "not too closely" and 14% who say "not closely at all."

How closely have you been following the news about the upcoming election in Iraq -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not closely at all?

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not closely
at all

No
opinion

2005 Dec 9-11

15

43

28

14

*

* Less than 0.5%

Americans who have been following the news "very" closely are most optimistic, with 54% expecting eventual success in forming a stable democratic government in Iraq, compared with 47% of people following the news "somewhat" closely, and just 31% who aren't paying much attention to the event.

Do you think the United States will -- or will not -- be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq?

Yes, will

No, will not

No opinion

%

%

%

All

41

55

4

How closely follow news about the Iraq election?

Very closely

54

45

1

Somewhat closely

47

48

5

Not closely

31

65

4

It is not clear if people are more optimistic because they are paying attention to the election and are receiving positive news, or if they are paying more attention to the news because they tend to be more upbeat about the ultimate success of U.S. efforts in Iraq.

If a democratic form of government is established, most Americans think it will make daily life better for the average Iraqi (68% say it will, 29% say it won't) and speed up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (61% yes, 36% no). But, most Americans also think that the insurgent attacks will continue (67% say the attacks won't end, 29% say they will).

Suppose a democratic government is formed in Iraq in the next few months. Do you think that government will -- or will not -- be able to do each of the following? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

2005 Dec 9-11
(sorted by "yes, will")

Yes,
will

No,
will not

No
opinion

%

%

%

Make daily life better for the average Iraqi

68

29

3

Speed up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq

61

36

3

Make it harder for terrorists to establish a base of operations in Iraq

54

44

2

Help the U.S. achieve its goals in other countries in the region

45

51

4

End insurgent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces

29

67

4

Americans are more closely divided as to whether a democratic government in Iraq will make it harder for terrorists to operate out of Iraq (54% say yes, 44% no), and whether establishing this kind of government will help the United States achieve its goals in other countries in the region (45% say yes, 51% no).

Election 2008

The Dec. 9-11 poll also updates the preferences of Republicans and Democrats for their respective party's presidential nominee in 2008. Topping the GOP list is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, with 30% of support, followed by Arizona Sen. John McCain (22%) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (18% among registered voters, 17% among all Republicans).

Next, I'm going to read a list of people who may be running in the Republican primary for president in the next election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in the year 2008, or if you would support someone else. [NAMES ROTATED: Virginia Senator, George Allen; Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour; Tennessee Senator, Bill Frist; Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani; Arizona Senator, John McCain; Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice; Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney]

BASED ON 405 REPUBLICANS AND REPUBLICAN LEANERS WHO ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE
BASED ON 435 REPUBLICANS AND REPUBLICAN LEANERS

2005 Dec 9-11

Republican
Registered
voters


All
Republicans

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

30

30

John McCain

22

22

Condoleezza Rice

18

17

George Allen

7

7

Bill Frist

3

2

Haley Barbour

2

3

Mitt Romney

2

3

Other

3

3

None

3

3

All/any

*

*

No opinion

10

10

* Less than 0.5%

Virginia Sen. George Allen receives 7% of support, while all other potential candidates receive less than 5% of support.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney just announced he would not seek re-election in 2006, opening the way for him to undertake a serious bid for his party's presidential nomination in 2008. Currently just 2% of registered Republicans would vote for him, though much can change in the next two years.

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the run-away leader, with 43% of support among registered voters, followed by former Sen. John Edwards (14%) and Sen. John Kerry (14%) -- the Democratic vice presidential and presidential nominees in 2004, respectively.

Next, I'm going to read a list of people who may be running in the Democratic primary for president in the next election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Democratic nomination for President in the year 2008, or if you would support someone else. [ROTATED: Indiana Senator, Evan Bayh; Delaware Senator, Joe Biden; New York Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton; Former North Carolina Senator, John Edwards; Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry; New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson; Iowa Governor, Tom Vilsack; Virginia Governor, Mark Warner]

BASED ON 446 DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS WHO ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE
BASED ON 491 DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS

2005 Dec 9-11

Democratic
Registered
voters


All
Democrats

%

%

Hillary Rodham Clinton

43

42

John Edwards

14

15

John Kerry

14

15

Joe Biden

8

7

Mark Warner

3

3

Bill Richardson

3

3

Evan Bayh

1

1

Tom Vilsack

1

1

Other

1

1

None

4

4

All/any

1

1

No opinion

7

7

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, who ran for president unsuccessfully in 1988 and has indicated he will run again in 2008, receives 8% of support among registered voters, while other potential candidates receive less than 5% of support.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 9-11, 2005. 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.

For results based on the 503 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 500 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 435 Republicans or Republican leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 405 Republicans or Republican leaners who are registered to vote, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 491 Democrats or Democratic leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 446 Democrats or Democratic leaners who are registered to vote, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 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.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/20473/Americans-Skeptical-Democracy-Will-Prevail-Iraq.aspx
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