NEW YORK – A plurality of Americans thinks the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group will make no difference in Iraq, while minorities divide between saying it will make things better and will make things worse, according to a FOX News Poll conducted this week.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from December 5 to December 6, the day before and the day of the release of the Iraq Study Group report. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Almost a quarter — 23 percent — of Americans think the work of the Iraq Study Group is going to have a positive impact on the situation in Iraq and 14 percent think a negative impact. More than four in 10 (44 percent) say it will make no difference at all.
Unlike most questions relating to Iraq, there are hardly any partisan differences here. About the same number of Democrats and Republicans think the study group’s report will make a positive/negative difference. The only significant difference between the parties is seen in the "no difference at all" responses, as more Democrats (49 percent) than Republicans (37 percent) hold that view.
"The change in tone over the last few weeks can’t be overstated," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "Those Americans who have questioned the war are, by and large, not taking any joy in the situation. Those who have been firmly in the ‘achieve victory’ category are left looking for a strategy."
More Americans think the main cause of the violence in Iraq today is the different groups of Iraqis fighting each other for control of their country (41 percent) rather than terrorists and enemies of the United States who want U.S. troops to leave the country in defeat (23 percent), with another 25 percent volunteering the response "both."
The poll finds most Americans think the violence is going to continue in Iraq whether U.S. troops stay or not. If U.S. troops leave Iraq, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) think the violence will increase, while 38 percent think it will stay at the same level. Only 8 percent think the level of violence will decrease.
When the question is focused on establishing a stable government, the public thinks U.S. troops being in Iraq will help achieve that goal: 23 percent think it is more likely that Iraq will stabilize under a central government if U.S. troops leave, yet more than twice as many — 50 percent — think it is less likely to stabilize without American military support.
Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was elected only six months ago, almost one in five Americans (18 percent) could spontaneously state his name. In case that sounds like a low number, consider this — in a FOX News likely voter survey last month, 44 percent said they had never heard of Dennis Hastert and another 14 percent were unable to give an opinion of him - even though he has been Speaker of the House (and third in line to the presidency after President Bush and Vice President Cheney) for the last six years.
Some Americans — 43 percent — think Maliki deserves more time to control the violence in Iraq, while 29 percent have already decided he is not the right person for the job.
One thing almost everyone agrees on: 86 percent of Americans think a significant number of U.S. troops will still be in Iraq one year from now, including 89 percent of Democrats and 83 percent Republicans.