Americans Upbeat Over U.S. Success in Baghdad

by David W. Moore

But cautious as to whether war is "over"

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are far more upbeat today than they were even a day ago, as news reports suggest Saddam Hussein's regime has collapsed. Compared with people's feelings on Monday and Tuesday, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll Wednesday evening found Americans significantly more likely to say that the situation in Iraq is worth going to war over and that the war itself has gone very well. Still, Americans take seriously the warning of administration officials, including the president, that the war is not over, though most believe that at worst only minor fighting remains.

Despite uncertainty among U.S. officials as to whether a U.S. bombing mission early this week killed Saddam, most Americans believe he is still alive. About half the public believes victory cannot be claimed until he is captured or killed.

In looking to the future, Americans are about evenly divided over whether the United States or the United Nations should control Iraq until a new Iraqi government is created. But 8 in 10 say they would support Bush if he says the United States should assume that responsibility.

Positive Reaction to Success of Troops

The poll, conducted the evening of April 9, shows that 76% of Americans say the situation in Iraq is worth going to war over, up from 67% who expressed that sentiment in a Gallup Poll conducted April 7-8.

All in all, do you think the current situation in Iraq is worth going to war over, or not?

 

Worth
going to war

Not worth
going to war

No
opinion

%

%

%

2003 Apr 9

76

19

5

2003 Apr 7-8

67

30

3



Similarly, 63% of Americans now say the war is going "very well," compared with 47% who said that two days earlier. A little over two weeks ago, 53% of Americans thought the war was going very well, just days after it began. But reports of fighting over the first weekend of the war caused a drop in the public's optimism. It rebounded at the end of last week, as coalition troops began to close in around Baghdad. Now that the troops have entered and control most of the Iraqi capital, the public's assessment has surged to its highest level.

How would you say the war with Iraq has gone for the U.S. so far – [ROTATED: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, (or) very badly]?

 

Very

well

Moder-ately well

Moder-ately badly

Very
badly

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Apr 9

63

32

1

3

1

2003 Apr 7-8

47

42

6

3

2

2003 Apr 5-6

51

40

5

2

2

2003 Mar 29-30

33

52

11

3

1

2003 Mar 24-25

34

51

9

3

3

2003 Mar 22-23

53

37

5

3

2



The troops' success has surprised Americans, who expected the battle of Baghdad to be more difficult than it has been. In a poll on April 5-6, 73% of Americans predicted that it would be difficult to take control of Baghdad, while only 25% said it would be easy. But in the poll last night, the majority was reversed, as 63% say the fight for control of Baghdad has been easy, and only 35% say difficult.

So far, do you think it has been—[ROTATED: very easy, somewhat easy, somewhat difficult, (or) very difficult]—for the U.S. forces fighting for control of Baghdad?

 

Very
easy

Somewhat easy

Somewhat difficult

Very
difficult

No
opinion

2003 Apr 9

16%

47

26

9

2



Trends for Comparison:

Now, thinking specifically about Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, do you think it will be – [ROTATED: very easy, somewhat easy, somewhat difficult, (or) very difficult]– for the U.S. forces to take complete control of Baghdad?

 

Very
easy

Somewhat easy

Somewhat difficult

Very
difficult

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Apr 5-6

4

21

52

21

2

2003 Mar 29-30 ^

4

11

49

36

*

^

Asked of a half sample.



War Not Over . . . Quite

Bush and other administration officials have warned Americans while the Iraqi regime has collapsed, "great danger can still lie ahead." The poll shows Americans apparently listening to the warning, as only 15% say the war with Iraq is over "for all intents and purposes." But another 44% say only minor fighting remains. Combined, those figures reveal a substantial majority (59%) with an upbeat view.

Based on what you have heard or read about the events in Baghdad today, do you think that for all intents and purposes, the war with Iraq is over, or not? [If not over: Do you think after today in Iraq there will still be some major battles (or) there will only be some minor fighting]?

 

2003 Apr 9

%

Think war is over

15

Do not think war is over

85

(Still some major battles)

(37)

(Only minor fighting)

(44)

(Unsure)

(4)



For about half of the public, 48%, victory in Iraq cannot be claimed unless Saddam is either killed or captured. The poll shows that 66% of Americans believe he is still alive, down from 73% who thought so two days ago.

Some news reports suggested that Iraqi citizens' cheering the toppling of a large statue of Saddam resembled the enthusiasm of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. When asked if the events in Baghdad were as significant as that event, Americans were evenly divided -- 46% saying yes, and an equal number saying no.

Do you consider today's events in Baghdad to be as significant as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or not?

 

 

Yes, as significant

 

No, not as significant

MORE
SIGNIF-ICANT
(vol.)

 

No
opinion

2003 Apr 9

46%

46

2

6



However significant the events might be, most Americans say the Baghdad success makes them feel proud (77%) and relieved (70%). A majority of Americans, 56%, also say they feel worried about what lies ahead in Iraq.

Public Will Follow President's Lead on Post-War Plans for Iraq

Both British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bush say the United Nations will play a "vital role" in the rebuilding of Iraq. However, there is much international debate about who should control Iraq until a new Iraqi government is established. Forty-eight percent of Americans say the United States should take controlling responsibility, while 45% say the United Nations. News reports suggest that the Bush administration is more likely to emphasize the central role of the United States over that of the United Nations, and in that case, 8 in 10 Americans would support the president.

Who would you prefer to control Iraq until a new Iraqi government is created— [ROTATED: The United States (or) The United Nations]?

 

 

United States

 

United Nations

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)

 

NEITHER
(vol.)

 

No
opinion

2003 Apr 9

48%

45

3

2

2



If President Bush decided that the United States should control Iraq until a new Iraqi government is created, would you support that decision, or not?

COMBINED RESPONSES

 

2003 Apr 9

%

Think United States should control Iraq

48

Do not think United States should control, but would support Bush

32

Do not think United States should control and would not support Bush

19

No opinion

1



Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 495 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 9, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that 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.

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.

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