Public Support for Iraq Invasion Inches Upward

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Slim majority says it would favor invasion even if United Nations rejects a new resolution on Iraq

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows support for an invasion of Iraq slightly higher than in recent weeks, at 64%, although support is slightly lower when Americans are asked about an invasion that would take place within the next two weeks. Public support for an invasion could dramatically increase if the United States is successful in getting a new U.N. resolution passed that would set conditions for Iraq to disarm, including the possibility of military action if Iraq does not disarm. However, a majority says it would still support an invasion if the United Nations rejects a new resolution on Iraq. The public is divided, with half opposed to an invasion, if the United States decides to proceed with military action without submitting a new resolution to the United Nations.

The poll was conducted March 14-15, prior to the meeting of U.S. President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and their host, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Durao Barroso, to discuss diplomatic options on Iraq. The United States, Great Britain, and Spain have been the most vocal supporters of a tougher stance against Iraq in an effort to remove its capabilities for weapons of mass destruction.

According to the poll, 64% of Americans are in favor of invading Iraq with ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, while 33% are opposed. The level of support on this basic question is up from the most recent reading taken about two weeks ago, March 3-5, when 59% favored an invasion. Support has generally been in the mid-to-high 50% range since last June, with one exception being a 63% reading shortly after Colin Powell's Feb. 5 address to the United Nations on Iraq.

Public Support for Invading Iraq
June 2002 – March 2003

Support is slightly lower, at 58%, when the same question is asked with the added stipulation that the invasion would take place "in the next week or two." With this question wording, 40% of Americans are opposed to military action.

Support Variable Depending on Outcome of U.N. Action

The United States pressed for a vote last week on a new U.N. resolution that would go beyond Resolution 1441. The existing resolution, passed last November, called on Iraq to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, but stopped short of explicitly authorizing military action or setting any deadlines for compliance. After it became clear several member nations, particularly France, would not support compromise resolutions acceptable to the United States, Great Britain, and Spain, leaders of the three countries arranged a meeting Sunday to discuss new options on Iraq. The Sunday summit led to a call for a 24-hour deadline for diplomacy on Iraq. At this point it is not clear if the U.S., Great Britain, and Spain will formally submit a new resolution that sets deadlines and/or calls for the use of force against Iraq, or if they will withdraw it for a lack of support on the U.N. Security Council.

As has been the case throughout recent months, support for military action against Iraq is contingent on what happens in the United Nations, as evidenced by the following results from the weekend poll:

  • Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they would favor invading Iraq if the United Nations passes a new resolution that sets specific conditions for Iraq to disarm, and just 19% would be opposed under these circumstances.
  • If such a resolution were submitted, but the United Nations rejected it, 54% of Americans would favor military action and 43% would oppose it.
  • If the United States decides not to offer any new resolutions on Iraq and goes forward with military action without a new U.N. vote at all, half of Americans would oppose an invasion of Iraq, while 47% would be in favor.

Clearly, support would be greater if the United Nations signs off on military action against Iraq, but a majority of Americans still say they favor it if the United Nations does not do so. Only in the case in which the United States essentially decides to bypass the United Nations does less than a majority (47%) favor military action. However, that option is a distinct possibility given the inability to find Security Council support for a tougher resolution on Iraq.

Public Frustration Evident Over Negotiations on Iraq

The new poll also shows signs of Americans' frustration regarding the high-stakes negotiations between the United States and other countries to get a new Iraq resolution passed. Fifty-nine percent of Americans say U.S. efforts to win international support "have taken too much time," while 38% believe they "should be given more time." Nevertheless, most Americans positively assess the way the United States has handled these negotiations -- 26% say the Bush administration did the best job possible given the circumstances, and an additional 42% say it did a fairly good job but made some mistakes. Only 14% say the Bush administration "completely mishandled the diplomatic efforts."

It is clear that much of the frustration is directed at France and other nations. Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe France is "being unreasonable in its approach to United Nations policy on Iraq," while only 24% think it is being reasonable. Furthermore, a majority of Americans, 54%, say France "is stabbing the United States in the back." This may result from the fact that French President Jacques Chirac said his country would veto any new resolution on Iraq that would authorize the use of military force against it.

This frustration is further evident in ratings of France (as well as Germany and Russia to a lesser extent). Only 34% of Americans rate France favorably, reflecting a dramatic 25-point drop since February, and far below the 79% favorable rating of France from February 2002.

It is unclear whether the slight increase in support for an invasion results from growing negative feelings toward nations such as France.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,007 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 14-15, 2003. 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.

Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

BASED ON – 488 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 14-15 ^

64

33

3

2003 Mar 3-5

59

37

4

2003 Feb 24-26

59

37

4

2003 Feb 17-19

59

38

3

2003 Feb 7-9

63

34

3

2003 Jan 31-Feb 2

58

38

4

2003 Jan 23-25

52

43

5

2003 Jan 10-12

56

38

6

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

56

39

5

2002 Dec 19-22 ^

53

38

9

2002 Dec 16-17 ^

58

35

7

2002 Dec 9-10

55

39

6

2002 Nov 22-24

58

37

5

2002 Nov 8-10

59

35

6

2002 Oct 21-22

54

40

6

2002 Oct 14-17 ^

56

37

7

2002 Oct 3-6

53

40

7

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

57

38

5

2002 Sep 13-16 †

57

39

4

2002 Sep 5-8 ^ †

58

36

6

2002 Sep 2-4 †

58

36

6

2002 Aug 19-21 †

53

41

6

2002 Jun 17-19 ^ †

61

31

8

2001 Nov 26-27 ‡

74

20

6

2001 Feb 19-21 ‡

52

42

6

1993 Jun 29-30 ‡

70

27

3

1992 Mar 30-Apr 5 ‡ ?

55

40

5

^

Asked of half sample.

WORDING: Would you favor or oppose sending American ground troops to the Persian Gulf in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq?

WORDING: Would you favor or oppose sending American troops back to the Persian Gulf in order to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq?

?

Life Magazine/Gallup.



Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in the next week or two in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

BASED ON – 519 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

58%

40

2



Do you think the Bush administration has -- or has not -- made a convincing case about the need for the U.S. to take military action against Iraq?

 

Yes, has

No, has not

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 14-15

57

41

2

2003 Feb 7-9 ^

56

41

3

2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 †

53

44

3

2003 Jan 23-25 †

49

48

3

^

Asked of a half sample.

WORDING: Do you think George W. Bush has – or has not—made a convincing case about the need for the U.S. to take military action against Iraq?



As you may know, the U.S., Great Britain, and Spain may offer a new resolution on Iraq in the United Nations Security Council. The new resolution would set specific conditions for Iraq to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, and could permit military action against Iraq if it does not meet those conditions.

Now, here are some things that could happen with this resolution. For each, say if you would favor or opposing invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops if it happened. How about if – [RANDOM ORDER]?

  1. The U.S. offers the resolution to the United Nations and the U.N. approves it

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

78%

19

3



B. The U.S. offers the resolution to the United Nations and the U.N. rejects it

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

54%

43

3



C. The U.S. decides NOT to offer the resolution to the United Nations and says it will proceed with military action without any new vote in the U.N.

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

47%

50

3



Suppose the resolution is put to a vote in the United Nations Security Council and it gets the nine votes required to pass, but the resolution fails because France, China or Russia vetoes it.

Would you consider this outcome to be – [ROTATED: more of a victory for the U.S. (or) more of a defeat for the U.S.]?

 

More a victory

More a defeat

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

39%

53

8



Do you think the United States' efforts to win international support for taking military action against Iraq – [ROTATED: have taken too much time, (or) should be given more time]?

 

Too much time

Given more time

No opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

59%

38

3



Which comes closer to your view about the way the Bush administration has handled diplomatic efforts with other nations regarding the situation with Iraq – [ROTATED: the Bush administration did the best job possible given the circumstances, it did a fairly good job but made some mistakes, it did a fairly bad job but did some things right, (or) the Bush administration completely mishandled the diplomatic efforts]?

 

Best job possible

Fairly good job

Fairly bad job

Com-
pletely mis-
handled

No
opinion

2003 Mar 14-15

26%

42

17

14

1



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