Politics and Public Opinion

Iraq Assessments: Success

Most pollsters follow the media’s ever-moving searchlight. If something isn’t big news, most pollsters don’t ask questions about it.

With Afghanistan front and center, assessments about Americans’ views of the situation in Iraq have been pushed to the back burner. But this week, two pollsters updated trends about the situation there. The new polls suggest that public opinion will respond to strong leadership and resolute policy action. Hats off again to my AEI colleague Fred Kagan, who played such an important role in advancing the surge.

When President Bush announced the surge in January 2007, just 36 percent told Pew Research Center interviewers that the U.S. military effort in Iraq was going well. In Pew’s December 2009 poll, 55 percent gave that response. Only 12 percent said it wasn’t going well at all. Sixty-three percent in another question said the United States would succeed in achieving its goals there.

In the new NBC News and the Wall Street Journal poll, 57 percent described the war as very or somewhat successful. Eighteen percent described it as somewhat unsuccessful, and 22 percent very unsuccessful.

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