Americans' Views of Situation in Iraq Deteriorate Further

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Americans equally likely to say insurgents, United States winning the war

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Amid increasing scrutiny on Bush administration policy toward Iraq from both parties, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans' views on the situation in Iraq about as bad as they have been since the war began. More than 6 in 10 Americans say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq, and a majority says the situation there is "out of control." For the first time, as many Americans say the insurgents in Iraq are winning the war as say the United States and its allies are, even though the majority continues to say neither side is winning. With 58% calling the Iraq war a "mistake," opposition to the war is on the high end of what Gallup has measured since the fighting began.

According to the Oct. 20-22, 2006, poll, 64% of Americans say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq, including 35% who say they are going "very badly." Just 35% of Americans say things are going well. That matches the worst assessment of the situation in Iraq Gallup has measured, from an April 2004 poll conducted just after a major insurgent uprising in Fallujah when American corpses were dragged through the streets.

As the graph shows, Americans have generally given negative evaluations to the war effort since the first few months of the conflict. There have only been a few instances since August 2003 when more Americans said things were going well for the United States in Iraq than said they were going poorly, including after successful democratic elections in February and March 2005, and in early 2004, shortly after the U.S. military captured Saddam Hussein.

The current poll shows that Americans are as likely to say the insurgents in Iraq are winning the war (21%) as to say the United States and its allies are (19%). The majority, 58%, still says neither side is winning. Prior to this poll, Americans had consistently said the United States and its allies rather than the insurgents were winning, by margins of at least 2 to 1.

Some prominent figures have speculated that the United States may be losing control of the situation in Iraq. This includes some Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, who recently described the situation there as near "chaos," and Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner. Most Americans tend to agree with this sentiment, as 55% say "the situation in Iraq is out of control and the country is now in a state of chaos and civil war," while 42% say the situation in still under control despite the difficulties in Iraq.

Republicans are much more optimistic than Democrats on all three measures. A majority of Republicans say the United States is winning the war, believe things are going well for the United States, and think the situation is under control. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Democrats think the situation is out of control and things are going badly for the United States, and 36% of Democrats say the insurgents are winning while only 3% say the United States is.

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

%

%

%

Situation for U.S. in Iraq

Going well

18

26

58

Going badly

80

72

40

Who is winning

U.S. and allies

3

13

51

Insurgents

36

13

8

Neither side

61

71

40

Situation out of control

Yes

77

60

20

No

20

38

76

Basic Support and Troop Levels

Basic support for the war has not changed dramatically, as opponents continue to outnumber supporters. For the year to date, an average of 54% of Americans have called the United States decision to send troops to Iraq "a mistake." In the current poll, 58% do so, which is within a percentage point of the high mark for the war (59%) found in a September 2005 poll. Currently, 40% of Americans -- mostly Republicans -- say the United States did not make a mistake.

Americans remain somewhat divided as to what the United States should do about its troops in Iraq. Many politicians in Washington have called for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawing troops, though the Bush administration has rejected that idea. The poll tracks a key Gallup question that provides respondents four alternatives -- withdrawing U.S. troops immediately, withdrawing troops within 12 months, withdrawing after the situation is such that the Iraqis can take over the country, and sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.

The results are similar to what they have been for the past year, with more Americans favoring a withdrawal of troops in a year or sooner than favor a longer-term withdrawal or an increase in troop levels. In the current poll, 20% favor an immediate withdrawal and 34% favor a withdrawal in a year's time, while 35% favor withdrawal, but in as many years as needed to turn control of the country over to the Iraqis. Just 9% favor sending more troops to Iraq.

Even among Democrats, only 33% favor an immediate withdrawal, while an additional 41% favor a one-year plan for withdrawing U.S. troops. Only 23% of Republicans favor withdrawal in a year or immediately. The majority of Republicans, 60%, advocate taking as many years to withdraw from Iraq as necessary.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,002 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 20-22, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects 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.

11. 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

%

%

%

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

^ Asked of a half sample

12. In general, how would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq -- [ROTATED: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, (or) very badly]?

Very
well

Mod-
erately well

Mod-
erately badly

Very
badly

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22 ^

3

32

29

35

2

2006 Jun 9-11

8

39

30

23

1

2006 Mar 10-12

6

32

32

28

1

2006 Jan 6-8

8

38

32

21

1

2005 Oct 21-23

7

35

29

28

1

2005 Aug 5-7

5

38

28

28

1

2005 Apr 29-May 1

6

36

31

25

2

2005 Mar 18-20

8

44

24

21

3

2005 Feb 4-6

13

40

28

18

1

2005 Jan 7-9

5

35

29

30

1

2004 Dec 5-8

6

34

26

33

1

2004 Sep 24-26

4

42

27

25

2

2004 Aug 9-11 †

5

40

28

25

2

2004 Jul 8-11

5

35

30

29

1

2004 Jun 3-6

6

34

35

25

*

2004 May 21-23

7

35

26

31

1

2004 May 2-4

4

33

32

30

1

2004 Apr 5-8

5

30

31

33

1

2004 Mar 5-7

9

46

28

15

2

2003 Nov 3-5 ^

4

34

34

27

1

2003 Oct 6-8 ^†

6

36

34

24

*

2003 Sep 8-10 ^

6

41

31

21

1

2003 Aug 25-26 ^

6

44

30

19

1

2003 Jul 25-27 ^

10

46

28

15

1

2003 Jul 18-20 ^

6

48

30

15

1

2003 Jun 27-29 ^

5

51

29

13

2

2003 May 30-Jun 1 ^

11

59

22

7

1

2003 May 5-7 ^†

30

56

10

3

1

2003 Apr 22-23 ^†

21

64

12

2

1

^ WORDING: How would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq now that the major fighting has ended -- [ROTATED: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, (or) very badly]?

† Asked of a half sample

13. Who do you think is currently winning the war in Iraq -- the U.S. and its allies, the insurgents in Iraq, or neither side?


U.S. and
its allies

Insurgents
in Iraq

Neither
side

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22 ^

19

21

58

1

2006 Feb 9-12

31

10

55

4

2005 Dec 16-18 ^

40

9

50

1

2005 Dec 9-11 ^

36

13

49

2

2005 Jun 24-26

34

14

50

2

2005 Feb 25-27

43

7

48

2

2004 Nov 19-21

44

7

46

3

2004 Oct 22-24 ^

35

10

53

2

^ Asked of a half sample

14. Here are four different plans the U.S. could follow in dealing with the war in Iraq. Which ONE do you prefer - [ROTATED: withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately, withdraw all troops by August 2007 -- that is, in 12 months' time, withdraw troops, but take as many years to do this as are needed to turn control over to the Iraqis, (or) send more troops to Iraq]?




Withdraw immediately


Withdraw in 12 months' time

Withdraw, take as many years as needed




Send more troops




No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

20

34

35

9

2

2006 Sep 15-17

17

31

42

9

2

2006 Jul 28-30

19

36

35

6

3

2006 Jul 21-23

19

33

38

7

2

2006 Jun 23-25

17

33

41

8

1

2006 Jun 9-11

17

32

42

6

3

2006 Mar 10-12

19

35

39

4

3

2005 Nov 11-13

19

33

38

7

3

15. Do you think the war with Iraq has made the U.S. safer -- or less safe -- from terrorism?

Safer

Less safe

NO CHANGE
(vol.)

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

37

52

9

2

2006 Sep 15-17

41

48

8

3

2005 Aug 5-7

34

57

6

3

2005 Jul 7-10 ^

40

54

5

1

2005 Jun 29-30

44

39

13

4

2005 Jun 24-26 ^

43

46

8

3

2004 Oct 1-3

47

45

5

3

2004 Jun 21-23

37

55

6

2

2004 Mar 5-7

50

37

10

3

2003 Dec 15-16 ^

56

33

9

2

2003 Nov 14-16

48

43

7

2

2003 Oct 24-26

45

43

10

2

2003 Apr 22-23

58

33

8

1

2003 Apr 10 †

51

37

9

3

^ Based on 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.

16. Based on what you have heard or read about the current situation in Iraq, which comes closer to your view -- [ROTATED: the situation in Iraq is out of control and the country is now in a state of chaos and civil war, (or) the situation in Iraq is still under control, even though the country is going through some difficult times]?

Situation is
out of control

Situation is
still in control

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

55%

42

3

17. Do you, personally, have any close friends, family members, or co-workers who have served in Iraq in the U.S. military since the war began, or not?

Yes

No

No opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

54%

45

*

2006 Mar 10-12

58%

42

*

* Less than 0.5%

18. Were any of them wounded or killed while serving in Iraq?

[COMBINED RESPONSES]

2006 Oct 20-22

2006 Mar 10-12

%

%

Know someone who served in Iraq

54

58

(Person was wounded or killed)

(11)

(12)

(Person not wounded or killed)

(43)

(46)

Do not know someone who served in Iraq

45

42

No opinion

*

*

* Less than 0.5%

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