Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Do the Vast Majority of American Favor “Cut And Run” in Iraq?

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, consistent with about every other poll done recently, is a litany of bad news for President Bush. It shows majorities opposing Bush’s troop surge, the president’s approval rating at 33 percent, and 71 percent saying the country is seriously off track.

A majority even disapprove Bush’s handling of the economy, which in fact is going great guns.

But one anomaly stands out.

While 64 percent of the sample says the U.S. did the “wrong thing” to get into the war, only a bare majority want to cut and run.

The poll asked:
Do you think (the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means continued U.S. military casualties); OR, do you think (the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored there)?
Only 52 percent of the sample said “withdraw forces,” and 46 percent said “keep forces.”

Admittedly, opinion is moving in an anti-war direction. In a December 2004 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 58 percent said “keep forces.”

Still, the overwhelming support for an immediate cut-and-run policy isn’t there. Opinion is nearly evenly divided.

What about all those other poll results that show discontent with the war? They are all (more or less) correct too. There is deep-seated discontent. It’s just that the American public hasn’t really reached a consensus around the idea that we should bug out now and to hell with the consequences.

Which is doubtless why the Democrats whine and moan about the war, but few will flatly say that we have lost and should simply admit defeat and get out.

Interestingly, this particular poll seems to have a bit of a pro-Democratic bias in the sample. Thirty six percent of respondents called themselves Democrats, and only 24 percent Republicans (35 percent said they were Independents). This gives the Democrats a 12 point edge in party identification.

The most recent Gallup Polls give the Democrats only a four to six point edge. When this sample bias is taken into account, the situation isn’t quite so bad in terms of support for the war, although it certainly cannot be called good.

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