Friday, December 14, 2007

More Public Optimism on Iraq War

This morning's Washington Post reports new poll findings on the rebound in public support on Iraq:

A year after approval of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq dipped to an all-time low, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds discontent toward the war easing slightly, with Republicans and independents significantly more positive about the situation than they were 12 months ago.

Baseline judgments about the war are unchanged -- six in 10 in the poll said the war is not worth fighting -- but the public is somewhat more upbeat about progress in Iraq. Optimism about the year ahead is also higher than it was a year ago.

Although a majority say the United States is not making significant gains toward restoring civil order in Iraq, the public's views are more positive than at this time last year. About four in 10 say the United States is making progress, an increase of 10 percentage points over last year.

Looking ahead to the new year, the public is somewhat more hopeful about the situation in Iraq. Forty-six percent said they are optimistic about the situation in Iraq in 2008, six points higher than in December 2006.

The improved public assessment comes as the rate of U.S. casualties and the violence in general in Iraq have declined. The war has also recently been overshadowed by other issues on the presidential campaign trail.

Movement in public assessment on the war is largely driven by a more positive outlook among Republicans.

Nearly eight in 10 Republicans, 77 percent, said the United States is improving the security situation in Iraq, up from 54 percent a year ago. Three-quarters of Republicans are optimistic about the year ahead in Iraq; 12 months ago, barely more than half felt that way.

A majority of independents continue to see a lack of progress, but the percentage seeing significant gains is up 14 points, to 42 percent. At the same time, independents are about as pessimistic as they were. Democrats remain overwhelmingly negative about the situation on the ground now and in the year ahead.

Democrats are still largely disapproving of the decision to go to war, with 85 percent saying that, given the costs and benefits to the United States, the war is not worth fighting. More than six in 10 independents agree, whereas three-quarters of Republicans call the war worth the effort. These numbers have shifted only marginally, as 37 percent of all Americans call the war worth fighting, nearly identical to the percentage saying so in December 2006.
This is interesting: It's a partisan war.

The improvement we see is mostly from Republicans who were war-weary, but are now pleased with the progress being made. The poll finds a 14 percent improvement among independents on the prospect of making significant gains, while Democrats appear as retreatist as ever.

Continued improvement will help the GOP next fall, and most importantly, the Iraqi people.

See also my earlier posts on the Iraq rebound in public opinion,
here and here.