Over Half of Americans Believe Iraq Better Off Now than Before U.S. Invasion

NEWYORK,N.Y. – September 14, 2010 – As U.S. troops have now handed off military control to Iraqi forces, there is time for reflection on the Iraqi war. Over half of Americans (57%) believe that Iraq is better off today than it was before the U.S. invasion 7 years ago, with one in five (19%) saying Iraq is much better off and almost two in five (38%) saying somewhat better off. One in five U.S. adults (19%) say Iraq is worse off today, and one-quarter (24%) are not at all sure.

These are some of the results of BBC World News America/Harris Poll of 2,340 adults surveyed online between August 19 and 23, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

 

Total
%

Better off (NET)

57

Much better off

19

Somewhat better off

38

Worse off (NET)

19

Somewhat worse off

12

Much worse off

7

Not at all sure

24

 

Men are more likely than women to say Iraq is better off now (62% versus 51%) and women are more likely to take a wait and see approach, saying they are not sure (29% versus 18%). Older Americans are more likely to believe Iraq is better off now than it was before the invasion. Just half of those 18-34 years old (51%) say Iraq is better off today, compared to three in five of those 45-54 (59%) and 55 and older (61%) who say the same.

Although Iraq may be better off, was the war itself worth fighting? Half of Americans (49%) say the war was worth fighting, with 19% saying it was very much worth fighting and 29% saying it was somewhat worth fighting. Two in five Americans (38%) believe the war in Iraq was not at all worth fighting. There is a regional difference on fighting the war. Almost half of those in the Northeast (45%) say the war was not worth fighting while 43% say the opposite. In the South, over half (53%) say the war in Iraq was worth fighting while one-third (33%) say it was not.

 

Total
%

Worth fighting (NET)

49

Very much worth fighting

19

Somewhat worth fighting

29

Not at all worth fighting

38

Not at all sure

14

 

Are we safer?

Americans are divided on the issue of whether the war in Iraq made America more or less safe. Almost two in five (39%) say the war made America safer while just under that (35%) say the war in Iraq made us less safe and one-quarter (26%) are not at all sure.

 

Total
%

Safer (NET)

39

Much safer

9

Somewhat safer

30

Less safe (NET)

35

Somewhat less safe

24

Much less safe

12

Not at all sure

26

 

There is definitely a gender gap on this issue, as well. Men are more likely to say the war made America safer (44% versus 34%) while women are more likely to say it made the country less safe (39% versus 31%). There is also a regional difference here. Almost half of Southerners (46%) say the war in Iraq made America safer while just one-third of Westerners (32%) say the same.

 

So what?

The history of the Iraq war is still being written and there is still a lot of uncertainty to how the events of the past seven years will be seen. Even as the combat stage of U.S. involvement is over, Americans are not sure what the war meant for both Iraq as well as the United States. The next generation of historians will be the ones to look back and see what the post-Iraq war world looked like.


 

 

TABLE 1

IRAQ BETTER OR WORSE

In your opinion, to what degree is Iraq better or worse off today than it was before the U.S. invasion 7 years ago?

Base: All Adults

Total

Gender

Age

Male

Female

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Better off (NET)

57

62

51

51

56

59

61

Much better off

19

25

13

17

18

21

21

Somewhat better off

38

37

38

34

37

38

41

Worse off (NET)

19

20

19

18

19

23

19

Somewhat worse off

12

12

12

14

13

13

10

Much worse off

7

7

7

4

6

10

9

Not at all sure

24

18

29

31

25

18

20

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

TABLE 2

WAR IN IRAQ WORTH FIGHTING

Looking back, to what extent would you say that the war in Iraq was worth fighting?

Base: All Adults

Total Region Income
Northeast Midwest South West Less than $35K $35K-$49.9K $50K-$74.9K $75K+
% % % % % % % % %
Worth fighting (NET) 49 43 49 53 46 43 54 53 51
Very much worth fighting 19 15 17 23 20 13 22 25 22
Somewhat worth fighting 29 28 32 30 26 29 32 29 29
Not at all worth fighting 38 45 38 33 38 41 36 36 39
Not at all sure 14 12 14 13 15 16 10 10 9

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

 

 

TABLE 3

SAFETY IN AMERICA TODAY

Do you believe America is safer or less safe today as a result of the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq?

Base: All Adults

 

Total

Gender

Region

Male

Female

Northeast

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Safer (NET)

39

44

34

36

39

46

32

Much safer

9

12

6

9

9

12

5

Somewhat safer

30

32 28

27

30

34

27

Less safe (NET)

35

31 39

38

36

31

38

Somewhat less safe

24

20 27

26

23

21

25

Much less safe

12

11 12

13

13

10

12

Not at all sure

26

25

27

26

25

23

30

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

Methodology

This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 19 and 23, 2010 among 2,340 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Harris Poll ® #106, September 14, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, Director, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

 

 

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