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How solid is the group who disapproves of the war in Iraq?
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, September 03, 2006

Everywhere I look in the MSM the number 60% is used to describe those who "disapprove" of or "oppose" the Iraq war. But I've wondered, what does that really mean? Does that disapproval or opposition mean they want us to end our involvement now (or very soon) and that the war is a mistake? I just didn't know, or, should I say, that hasn't been clear from reading news and opinion pieces.

So I looked for a few of the polls that were responsible for that number being out there. One such poll was the one CNN did on August 2nd and 3rd of this year (there are a number of polls at that link, but I chose the CNN poll because of the questions it ask).

Concerning Iraq the first question asked was, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?". Of the total, 62% disapproved and 36% approved with 2% unsure.

OK, most don't like the way he's handling the situation. That's fair. I'm not particularly enamored of the way the situation has been handled either. I believe that I'd be comfortable saying that on the whole I disapprove of more than I approve. That said, I still think we should stay the course as I think we're now doing the right thing as far as training up the Iraqi security forces.

When the question was changed slightly, the numbers changed - slightly. The question was "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war with Iraq?" The same number approved, but 2% less disapproved with their number moving into the unsure.

According to the poll, a majority "oppose" the war. But again I'm left wondering what that really means. How does that opposition break out: What are the reasons those who oppose the war do so?

The next question helped provide some insight into those questions:
"Do you think the U.S. should withdraw SOME troops from Iraq by the end of the year, or do you think the U.S. should keep the SAME NUMBER of troops in Iraq through the end of the year?" If "Withdraw": "Do you think the U.S. should withdraw ALL troops from Iraq by the end of the year, or do you think the U.S. should keep SOME troops in Iraq through the end of the year?" Half sample, MoE ± 4.5
The results?

26% said "withdraw all"

35% said "withdraw some"

34% said "keep the same number"

5% were unsure.

So, given this, only 26% favor a "withdraw all" strategy by the end of the year, while the majority (69% favor a strategy which withdraws only some or none) don't. Now one should note that 61%, which matches the number who "oppose" or "disapprove" of the war also is the percentage which said "withdraw". However, less than half of the number saying "withdraw" said "withdraw all".

It is that 35% (or more than half of the 61% who disapprove) who I'm interested in since it is they who seem not to be quite as disapproving of the war in total as some might like us to believe. If you "oppose" or "disapprove" of the war, one might reasonably assume you'd then be demanding an end to the war as soon as possible. Hence you would expect a solid majority if not all of the 61% who "oppose" or "disapprove" of it to favor "withdraw all" by the end of the year.

But they don't. One would assume then that they may disapprove or oppose the war for other reasons than a simple anti-war stance. It may be, for instance, because they think we're not prosecuting it vigorously enough. It may even be because they feel we don't have enough troops there. Heck, it could even be because we haven't taken on Iran or Syria. No one, apparently, knows. Disapproval and opposition can be for many reasons, not all of them favorable toward the position of the minority party's stance.

A clear majority (69%)of this question feel we should remain in Iraq past the end of this year. Interesting.

Now let's consider a question about timelines:
"Which comes closer to your view about U.S. troops in Iraq? The U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal by announcing that it will remove all of its troops from Iraq by a certain date. The U.S. should keep troops in Iraq as long as necessary without setting any timetable for withdrawal." Options rotated. Half sample, MoE ± 4.5.
57% said a timetable is a good idea

40% said it wasn't and 4% were unsure.

In this case they're talking about a date certain for withdrawal. But again, what does that mean? Does it mean this year or the next or three years out? That's not certain and certainly not clear in the poll. But we have 40% (up from a pretty constant 36% who approve of the war) who feel a timeline is a mistake. And of the 57% we have no idea of what their timeframe may be.

The last question, in my estimation is the most telling:
"Which comes closer to your view about the war in Iraq? You think the U.S. will DEFINITELY win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. will PROBABLY win the war in Iraq. You think the U.S. CAN win the war in Iraq, but you don't think it WILL win. OR, You do not think the U.S. CAN win the war in Iraq."
Remember the 61% who oppose or disapprove of the war in Iraq when you consider these numbers:

20% say we will definitely win.

27% say we will probably win.

19% say we could win but probably won't.

29% say we cannot win.

So 66% of those surveyed believe we could (at least) win. That's significant. It is that 19%, in my estimation, who could be disillusioned by the war for a variety of reasons, not all of which support the Democrats position. Pick your reason for their belief that we could but probably wouldn't win, but they are obviously moving from the we can "definitely/probably" win category to the we can't win category (given the history of the support for the war and its downward trend). They are also the group which will most interest the political parties, because, on the question of Iraq, they may provide the difference in success or failure in the midterms by both sides.

Again, that the 19% could feel that way for a variety of reasons other than "its the wrong war at the wrong time and the wrong place". As mentioned, it could just as easily be because they think we're not prosecuting it vigorously enough, or other similar execution v. philosophical or ideological reasons.

To sum up: only 29% say we cannot win. 26% said we should withdraw all. To me, that 26-29% is the hard core "anti-war" element who will definitely vote or support the Democrat's position on the war. There are the 36-40% on the other side who essentially approve of the war and will vote or support the Republicans on the war.

That leaves about 30% who may "disapprove" or "oppose" the war, but not necessarily for the reasons some politicians and pundits may think. That group, if Iraq is a hot election issue, may be one of the groups which helps decide some close elections in November.
 
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Comments
Everywhere I look in the MSM the number 60% is used to describe those who "disapprove" of or "oppose" the Iraq war…what does that really mean?
…that wasn’t clear from reading news and opinion pieces.”
What COULD it mean, except the meaning that has been universally assigned to these polls by liberal pundits (Oliver Willis, for one in this very space)? Given the known political split in America, no thinking person could leap to the conclusion that liberals have done on this issue without investigating the results, as you have done here, before making that leap. Why have liberals universally failed to do so?

The answer is obvious to me. They don’t care about being right. They care about winning. Like the Plame travesty of journalism, reporting polls like this is not about the truth, but instead about moving an agenda. The Liberal Narrative says that at this point in time 60+% of Americans are against the war. You will be reading textbooks thirty years from now repeating that statement.
You have asked the right question. Common sense provides the answer. Will that make any difference to the liberals? Well, it hasn’t so far.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Shhhhhhhh McQ! You’ll blow the cover on the favorite liberal talking point on how everyone really is against the war.

You know how b*tchy some people get when you try to take their meme away from them...
To sum up: only 29% say we cannot win. As you remember only 26% said we should withdraw all. To me, that 26-29% is the hard core "anti-war" element who will definitely vote or support the Democrats position on the war. Then there are the 36-40% on the other side who essentially approve of the war and will vote or support the Republicans on the war.
So right at the start, the GOP still has the upperhand on this issue by 10%, despite all the MSM hysteria. Ooooh, that can’t be good news for the Dems...
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
An interesting question would be to interpose, with the question of "will we win" is "is it worth it?"


It’s also worth pointing out that it’s kind of hard to engage social unrest and sectarian antagonism in combat. If the place descends into civil war, how can we possibly ’win?’

 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
An interesting question would be to interpose, with the question of "will we win" is "is it worth it?"
Good point, and that may be part of the calculation of the 19%.

My whole point, obviously, is there are many and varying reasons to "oppose" or "disapprove" of the war, and not all of them work to the benefit of the minority party.
It’s also worth pointing out that it’s kind of hard to engage social unrest and sectarian antagonism in combat. If the place descends into civil war, how can we possibly ’win?’
Kind of depends on how you define "win" doesn’t it?

It’s also worth pointing out that the majority of Iraq isn’t suffering the sectarian antagonism that other parts are. However, it is clear that the government must quell it or I’d agree that civil war at some point will become inevitable.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
That a very good analysis, and its heartening to know the country isnt as bonkers as the media projects.
 
Written By: Jane
URL: http://armiesofliberation.com
McQ, I know this is a favorite theme of yours, and maybe you’re right. I’m certainly no pollster. But if I were a betting man, I would bet that only a negligible portion, if any, of the 60% who "oppose" the Iraq war do so "because they think we’re not prosecuting it vigorously enough." Why would someone who believes that tell a pollster that they "oppose the war"? That just strikes me as an encredibly bizarre answer.

It seems to me that you very much don’t want to believe that public opinion has soured as much as it has on the war. That’s understandable. But this is an important issue and any number of professional pollsters have taken a crack at it so far. And they’re all getting similar results. Moreover, the polls seem to track my own anecdotal evidence. I have a number of friends and family members who are solid Republicans who were very much in favor of the war a few years ago. Nearly all of them now think invading Iraq was a mistake. These aren’t leftists or peaceniks. Indeed, they’ll undoubtedly all still vote Republican this fall. But they’ve soured on the war. Surely you’ve encountered this phenomenon too, haven’t you? Why do you find it so hard to believe that 60% of the country could indeed be opposed to the war at this point?
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
Jane,

Polls use yes or no questions. You don’t have the option of saying I don’t like the way it’s been handled but I think we did the right thing.

AL,
people get there opinion from what they hear about. The media determines what you hear by whether or not it will generate ratings or if it supports there political views. You won’t hear any of the boring feel good stories on the news so people will naturally believe that the only thing going on is murder and mahem. You probably won’t hear anything positive from the newsies until Al-Sadr is captured or killed.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
Thirty percent. That’s interesting. That’s the same percentage of Americans I believe aren’t liberal capitalist.

Excellent post Bruce.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
But if I were a betting man, I would bet that only a negligible portion, if any, of the 60% who "oppose" the Iraq war do so "because they think we’re not prosecuting it vigorously enough."
Since I personally know of a couple of people who think the war wasn’t prosecuted vigorously enough, there certainly are some people who believe that and are not especially happy with the way the war in Iraq is run at the moment.

The "play to win or don’t play at all" crowd is larger than you may think.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Shark -
Shhhhhhhh McQ! You’ll blow the cover on the favorite liberal talking point on how everyone really is against the war.
The public appears to have separated out the Iraq War geopolitical circumstances - where they are far less than 60% opposed to many of it’s effects so far and goals....and the profound disquiet and rejection of Tem Bush’s bungled efforts since Afghanistan in the badly misnamed Global War on Terrorism. Disquiet over the Iraq bungling became soldified when Bush showed inept leadership in explaining the stakes other than the "I am the new Churchill" turgid speeches - then issues of his actual competency. Over Iraq strategy, neocon seduction, his Bushie folks endless happy talk, then Schiavo, Katrina, Harriet Miers, and a national sense America is going in the wrong direction on a number of major issues and only the rich are doing well..

The 60% is more Bush/Likudnik neocon/competency of the Bushies disapproval than Iraq. The media fixates on Iraq, but the people are far more concerned about gas prices, excessive corrupt influence by K Street and the religious right, losing health care, the fiscal mess their kids will pay to fix, America’s loss of prestige and ability to compete abroad, immigration, China gutting American jobs under globalization - than Iraq. When the leader is thought to be bad, polls reflect that anything the leader touches is bad.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
It seems to me that you very much don’t want to believe that public opinion has soured as much as it has on the war.
Not at all. It’s obvious it has soured (the 60% number is pretty consistent).

I’m interested in "why". You seem more comfortable with stopping at the idea that it has soured.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The "play to win or don’t play at all" crowd is larger than you may think.
To Mark Flacy’s point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Mark Flacy writes:
Since I personally know of a couple of people who think the war wasn’t prosecuted vigorously enough, there certainly are some people who believe that and are not especially happy with the way the war in Iraq is run at the moment.
Mark, you’re entirely missing my point. I know that people like this exist. I know some of them. My point was that I highly doubt that these people—when asked whether they support or oppose the Iraq War—are answering "I oppose it." McQ’s thesis depends on a sizeable number of these people answering the question that way, and that strikes me as unlikely.
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
Not at all. It’s obvious it has soured (the 60% number is pretty consistent).
Fair enough, McQ. I should have been more precise. It seems that you don’t want to believe that 60% of Americans could think the Iraq War was a bad idea. So, instead, you posit that a significant franction of that 60% are in fact people support the war but feel it has been inadequately prosecuted. I find that unlikely. There are no doubt many people who fit your description, but these people seem very unlikely—to me at least—to tell a pollster they "oppose the war."
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
My point was that I highly doubt that these people—when asked whether they support or oppose the Iraq War—are answering "I oppose it."
AL, then what of the 69% that feel we should remain in Iraq past the end of the year? At least 29% of people fall into that category and also identify as "opposed to the war". So they’re opposed to the war, but don’t think we should get out of it. How many of those do you suppose might think we need to do things differently? How many of them might ploclaim support for the war if it were to be conducted in whatever manner they prefer?

I think those people you’re looking for fall within that 29+%
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
It seems that you don’t want to believe that 60% of Americans could think the Iraq War was a bad idea. So, instead, you posit that a significant franction of that 60% are in fact people support the war but feel it has been inadequately prosecuted.
I’m not "positing" anything, I’m examining the numbers based on the questions asked and drawing conclusions. Instead of dealing with what I do or don’t believe, why not deal with those same numbers and tell me how you would interpret them. Tell me where my reasoning or conclusions are incorrect.

I’ve already dealt with the fact that 60% could think the Iraq war was a bad idea ("Not at all. It’s obvious it has soured (the 60% number is pretty consistent"), but unlike you -apparently you prefer to believe that 60% to be a homogeneous group all opposed for a particular reason- I think the numbers demonstrate there may be a variety of reasons for opposition. Why don’t you deal with that?
There are no doubt many people who fit your description, but these people seem very unlikely—to me at least—to tell a pollster they "oppose the war."
Well the numbers in this poll, if you actually examine them, don’t support your thesis (and thus the purpose of the post). So how, again, do you explain that? I’ve provided numbers and an analysis. All I’ve gotten from you is "it isn’t very likely because I don’t believe people would say X".

That’s not much of an argument, AL.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
we (the people polled) have realized that we are helping tribes fight tribes. they will probably always be tribes. i am totally furious now...all the lost soldiers who were in the middle of this tribal warfare....and i am a conservative. get us out while we are alive!
 
Written By: marcia rice
URL: http://
"Well the numbers in this poll, [my emphasis] if you actually examine them,, don’t support your thesis (and thus the purpose of the post). So how, again, do you explain that? I’ve provided numbers and an analysis. All I’ve gotten from you is "it isn’t very likely because I don’t believe people would say X". That’s not much of an argument, AL."
Al, of course, being used to making his arguments in the liberal cocoon, doesn’t get it that McQ is referring to that arcane concept called "the truth". As if liberals even understand, much less care about, that ancient concept. "Nuance" has long since been substituted. A liberal will believe anything that is consistent with the Liberal Narrative. When someone like McQ brings actual common sense truth to the argument, if that truth is inconsistent with the LN, liberals are not equipped to deal with it. You have observed here how AL has choked on it.

AL’s thesis does not have to be supported by the numbers in the poll. It has only to be consistent with the LN. If it is consistent, he has only to declare what the poll means and all good liberals will instantly adopt his interpretation. Since his thesis is consistent with the LN, AL cannot comprehend, much less understand, why McQ would choose to argue with it. What’s the point? If it is inconsistent, it must (and will, in LiberalLaLaland) die, and the less time spent on it the better.


 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
McQ,

I’ve read through your analysis, and frankly, it’s no more convincing than my own (which I admit, is based more an anecdotal evidence and gut feeling than hard numbers). Just because you list a whole lot of poll data doesn’t make your analysis more solid, because the data you cite isn’t on point. In the end, you are simply asserting a belief that some significant percentage of the 60% of people who oppose the war do so because they think it should be more agressively prosecuted. I believe there are a significant number of people who fit that description, but I don’t see any reason to believe that they would tell pollsters they "oppose the war." Think about yourself. Is that how you would answer the poll?

You dwell a lot on the fact that not everyone thinks we should immediately withdraw. But I don’t see what that proves. No one could have been more against the invasion of Iraq than I was. I think it was a colossal mistake. But I am not in favor of immediate withdraw. In fact, I’m not even sure I support a timeline for withdrawal. There are many people like me.

The same is true of your emphasis on the 19% percent who say we can win, but probably won’t. I think you’re reading way too much into that number. I would fall into that category if I was polled. Saying that you think something "can" be won just means that you don’t think that outcome is totally impossible. Who knows, maybe we’ll catch a break and everything will just work itself out. Anything’s possible.
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
Just because you list a whole lot of poll data doesn’t make your analysis more solid, because the data you cite isn’t on point.
Really? And your basis for that assertion is what? That’s twice now you’ve claimed my analysis isn’t right but offered little in the way of substantive argument in rebuttal.
In the end, you are simply asserting a belief that some significant percentage of the 60% of people who oppose the war do so because they think it should be more agressively prosecuted.
Not at all. Careful reading would show you that I say that could be one of the reasons among many.

What I am saying - and the numbers support me - is that the opposition isn’t just a "get out and get out now" anti-war stance. At most 29% seem to fall into that group. That means the majority oppose the war for other reasons. I’m interested to know what they are.
You dwell a lot on the fact that not everyone thinks we should immediately withdraw. But I don’t see what that proves.
Read the question. Then correlate that response with the response to the next two questions. Only 26% said "withdraw all". Below that only 29% said we "can’t win". You see no correlation?

Then look at the fact that the majority say "withdraw some" or none as well as will "definitely win", "probabaly win" or "could win". Again, you see no correlation there?

Withdraw some or none may be the position of someone who opposes the war, but it certainly isn’t the position of someone who is anti-war.

The position of the 26-29% is.

So tell me, what does that mean? Obviously it means at least that the 60% who oppose the war don’t oppose it for the same reasons.
No one could have been more against the invasion of Iraq than I was. I think it was a colossal mistake. But I am not in favor of immediate withdraw. In fact, I’m not even sure I support a timeline for withdrawal. There are many people like me.
You make my point. The reasons for opposition vary tremendously. There isn’t some monolithic 60% who oppose the war for the same reason (and would vote that way).
The same is true of your emphasis on the 19% percent who say we can win, but probably won’t. I think you’re reading way too much into that number.
I could make the same argument about you dwelling on the example of "not prosecuting the war vigorously enough", but moving on:
I would fall into that category if I was polled. Saying that you think something "can" be won just means that you don’t think that outcome is totally impossible. Who knows, maybe we’ll catch a break and everything will just work itself out. Anything’s possible.
Well not "anything", but certainly a range of outcomes is possible. But again, the point of the post isn’t that 60% oppose the war, it is that their reasons for opposing it vary and that any politician who thinks he or she may have a handle on what constitutes that opposition are, in my estimation and based on this poll, sadly mistaken.

And if they try to turn that into political hay, they may regret it depending on how they do so.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"...and if they try to turn that into political hay, they may regret it depending on how they do so."
deft.


 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
My point was that I highly doubt that these people—when asked whether they support or oppose the Iraq War—are answering "I oppose it."
Assuming that exact question asked by the poll, you may be right. That didn’t appear to be one of the questions in the poll cited by McQ.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I thought this was an interesting and smart post. But, politically, it doesn’t really matter. The Republicans, no matter how hard their House candidates try to run from it, are led by a president whose message is "stay the course".

You’re probably quite right that the 61% who "oppose" the war have different feelings and motivations about it, and you can separate some of them out from the immediate withdrawal group, but

I’m pretty sure that no one in the 61% is ready to vote to "stay the course".
"Oppose" the war and "stay the course" are pretty hard to reconcile.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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