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Poll: Action in Iraq Was Right Thing to Do

A majority of the public thinks going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do, but considerably fewer Americans believe a lot of progress has been made there. Nearly half disapprove of press coverage of operations in Iraq, and many Americans think news reports focus mainly on the negative things happening in Iraq.

These are some of the findings of the latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, conducted October 14-15 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search).

Currently, 58 percent of Americans think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do, down from 62 percent in September and 65 percent in July. Almost four in 10 (39 percent) feel strongly that taking military action was the right thing to do and 19 percent feel it was somewhat right. About a third think going to war was the wrong thing to do (23 percent strongly and 12 percent somewhat).

A solid majority believes progress has been made toward restoring security and government services in Iraq. About one in five Americans (19 percent) think "a lot" of progress has been made, while 44 percent say there has been some progress, "but not a lot." Twenty-one percent say "a little" progress has been made, and nine percent say "no progress at all."

There are large party differences on this issue, with fully 82 percent of Republicans saying they think a lot or some progress has been made, compared to 49 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents.

"An America that was united after 9/11 is clearly returning to the intensely partisan split that was apparent in 2000," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). "Even Vietnam, which tore the country apart, was somewhat bipartisan on both the pro- and anti-war sides, since it was begun by Democrats and continued by Republicans. The Iraq effort is rapidly becoming a Democrats versus Republicans issue, which will make it far more difficult for the administration."

Earlier this year, when major combat was still underway in Iraq, over half of Americans approved of the way newspapers and television channels were reporting on the war. Today, nearly half disapprove (46 percent) of the way news outlets have been reporting on U.S. military operations in Iraq. Again, there are predictable partisan differences. Democrats are more likely to approve of the news coverage of Iraq, but a majority of Republicans disapprove.

In addition, three times as many Americans think news reports about Iraq are more likely to focus on the negative and leave out the positive (60 percent), than to focus largely on the positive things happening in Iraq (19 percent). Earlier this week President Bush gave several interviews to local broadcast stations, in part, because he believes the positive things happening in Iraq are not getting attention in the mainstream press.

Polling was conducted by telephone October 14-15, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.  

1. Do you think people living in other countries around the world generally have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the United States today?

1. Favorable 18%
2. Unfavorable 62
3. (Mixed) 13
4. (Not sure) 7

2. How much do you care what people in other countries think of the United States and its citizens?

1. A lot 36%
2. Some, but not a lot 33
3. A little 12
4. Not at all 17
5. (Not sure) 2

3. Do you personally have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of France as a country?

1. Favorable 27%
2. Unfavorable 43
3. (Mixed) 11
4. (Not sure) 19

4. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing? Do you feel that strongly or only somewhat?
SCALE: 1. Strongly right 2. Somewhat right 3. Somewhat wrong 4. Strongly wrong 5. (Not sure)

---- Right ---- ----- Wrong -----  
TOT Strngly Smwt TOT Smwt Strngly (Not sure)
14-15 Oct 03 58% 39 19 35% 12 23 7
9-10 Sep 03 62% 43 19 33% 12 21 5
29-30 Jul 03 65% 42 23 27% 10 17 8
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 65% 43 22 27% 9 18 8

5. Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way newspapers and television channels have been reporting on U.S. military operations in Iraq?

Approve Disapprove (Mixed) (Don't know)
14-15 Oct 03 36% 46 14 4
8-9 Apr 03* 52% 39 na 9
25-26 Mar 03* 56% 33 na 11

* Previous wording . . . reporting on the war in Iraq

6. Generally speaking, do you think news reports about U.S. military operations in Iraq have been: (ROTATE)

1. More likely to focus on the negative
things happeningin Iraq and leave out
the positive things, or
60%
2. More likely to focus on the positive
things happeningin Iraq and leave out
the negative things?
19
3. (Neither) 8
4. (Depends) 9
5. (Not sure) 4

7. How much progress do you think is being made toward restoring security and government services in Iraq? Would you say a lot of progress has been made, some progress but not a lot, a little progress or no progress at all?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. A lot of progress 19% 12% 30% 17%
2. Some, but not a lot 44 37 52 43
3. A little 21 28 10 26
4. None at all 9 15 2 7
5. (Not sure) 7 8 6 7