Perceptions of Iraq War Starting to Shift?
Michael Barone argues that a major op-ed last week by Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack, which argued that there are signs that the Surge is working, has “shake[n] up Washington and change[d] the way [the Iraq War] is viewed.” That would be astounding, indeed, given how few people read NYT op-eds, that the piece was widely an almost uniformly lampooned, and that even O’Hanlon and Pollack concede that the progress is only on the military side with nary a glimmer of hope on the much more important political-diplomatic side, which features an Iraqi government taking a month-long vacation for no apparent reason.
Interestingly, Barone argues zero evidence for his assertion. Indeed, a quick check of the polls linked by RealClear Politics (which hosts Barone’s column) shows virtually no movement on Iraq.
Newsweek (August 3):
FOX doesn’t have an Iraq question but presidential approval is a somewhat reasonable proxy:
Hotline offers no trend analysis.
The only survey linked which shows significant positive movement is the Rasmussen poll, and even that is only on the Surge-specific question:
55% of likely voters want U.S. combat troops out or Iraq early in 2008. Thirty-four percent (34%) are opposed to that approach while 11% are not sure. That’s little changed from a month ago. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Democrats want the troops to leave Iraq. That view is shared by 35% of Republicans and 49% of those not affiliated with either major political party.
Twenty-five percent (25%) of voters now say the troop surge is working and another 26% say it’s too soon to tell. A month ago, just 19% considered the surge a success and 24% said it was too early to tell. Combining those totals means that 51% are at least willing to give the policy more time. That’s up from 43% a month ago.
My fervent hope is that Barone is right that “instead of accepting defeat and inviting chaos, we may be able to achieve a significant measure of success” and that the public will rally if there are legitimate signs of progress. He’s almost certainly right that the vast majority of the country “wants victory.” But his argument that a widely
debunked criticized op-ed has rallied public opinion is sheer fantasy.
[T]he proportion of those who said the additional troops are “making the situation better” rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was “not making much difference” dropped to 41% from 51%.
Now, whether that 31% thinks “better” is good enough is unknowable. Still, interesting that two reputable polls are showing a shift. Time will tell, I suppose.