Latest Poll Shows High Point in Opposition to Iraq War

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Sixty-two percent say U.S. made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As an increasing number of Republican senators are questioning the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, and as Democrats again attempt to force an end to the war, the latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows public opposition to the war at its highest point thus far.

Roughly half of Americans say the surge in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is not making any difference in Baghdad or in Iraq more generally. However, the poll suggests Americans may disagree with Democratic attempts to vote on a new Iraq policy this week: a majority say Congress should hold off on developing a new policy until General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, reports on the progress of the surge in September. At the same time, 7 in 10 Americans say they favor a policy to remove most U.S. troops from Iraq by April of next year.

War Support

The July 6-8, 2007, poll finds 62% of Americans saying the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq; 36% say it was not a mistake. This is the first time Gallup has shown opposition to the war exceeding the 60% level. The previous highs were 59% readings in March 2007 and September 2005.

Gallup has asked a "mistake" question about most recent wars involving the United States, including the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and the war in Afghanistan. The only war that compares to the current conflict in terms of public opposition is the Vietnam War. By one measure, the current war in Iraq has matched and possibly eclipsed the Vietnam War. From 1965-1973, opposition to the war reached a high of 61% in May 1971, compared with the current 62% opposition to the Iraq War. However, in that same 1971 poll, the percentage of Americans supporting the Vietnam War -- saying it was not a mistake -- was 28%, significantly lower than the current 36% support for the Iraq War.

Ratings of the current Iraq war are still better than several retrospective measures of the Vietnam War Gallup measured between 1990 and 2000, which showed between 69% and 74% of Americans saying the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Vietnam.

The vast majority of Democrats, 84%, think the current war with Iraq is a mistake, as do 66% of independents. Only 28% of Republicans share this view.

The Surge

The Bush administration made a controversial decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq earlier this year to help secure Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. According to the poll, only a relatively small minority of Americans believe the surge is making things better in Baghdad or in Iraq at large.

Specifically, 17% of Americans say the surge is making the situation in Baghdad better, 49% say it is not making any difference, and 30% say it is making it worse. That is a slightly more negative assessment than Gallup measured in April, when 26% said the surge was making the situation better, 29% said worse, and 41% said the increase in troops was not making much difference.

The results are generally similar when asking about the effects of the surge on Iraq more generally -- 22% of Americans say the surge is making the situation better throughout Iraq, 25% say it is making things worse, and 51% say the surge is not making much difference.

The success of the surge will be formally assessed in September, when General Petraeus will report to Congress about the progress of the war effort. Even with opposition to the war at a record high, the public seems to endorse a patient approach toward developing a new Iraq policy. Fifty-five percent of Americans say Congress should not develop a new policy regarding Iraq until the September progress report, while 40% would prefer to see Congress act now to change Iraq war policy.

Views on this matter are highly partisan, however, with the majority of Democrats wanting immediate action on a new policy and a majority of Republicans advocating the more patient approach. Most independents are also inclined to wait until September for a new Iraq policy.

The Endgame

It is clear that public support for withdrawing troops is growing. The poll finds 71% of Americans in favor of a proposal to remove almost all U.S. troops from Iraq by April 2008, leaving a limited number of troops for counter-terrorism efforts. Twenty-six percent of Americans oppose this scenario.

Even though a large majority of Republicans support the war, 42% still favor this proposal for troop removal, while 54% are opposed. Seventy-nine percent of independents and 84% of Democrats would like to see most U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq by next April.

Gallup has consistently found majority support this year among Americans for a variety of proposals that would set timetables for removing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,014 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 6-8, 2007. 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.

34. 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 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

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample

Q.35-36 SPLIT SAMPLED

35. (Asked of a half sample) 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]?

BASED ON 505 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

           

 

Better

Not making
much difference

 

Worse

 

Noopinion

%

%

%

%

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

36. (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 509 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

           

 

Better

Not making
much difference

 

Worse

 

No opinion

2007 Jul 6-8 ^

22%

51

25

2

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample

Q.37-38 SPLIT SAMPLED

37. (Asked of a half sample) Do you favor or oppose removing all U.S. troops from Iraq by April 1st of next year, except for a limited number that would be involved in counter-terrorism efforts?

BASED ON 505 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2007 Jul 6-8

71%

26

4

38. (Asked of a half sample) Which comes closer to your view about U.S. policy toward the situation in Iraq -- [ROTATED: Congress should act now to develop a new policy on Iraq, (or) Congress should not develop a new policy on Iraq until September when General Petraeus reports on the progress of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq]?

BASED ON 509 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B


Act now to develop
new policy on Iraq

Not develop
new policy on Iraq
until September


No
opinion

2007 Jul 6-8

40%

55

5

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