Public Turning Even More Negative on Iraq

Recent polls show a record high proportion of the U.S. public now believes Iraq was a mistake.

By the end of this month, Congress will be considering a major supplemental spending bill—totaling as much as $170 billion—to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into the next presidency, channel more federal money to the ailing domestic economy, and set policies to begin to moving U.S. troops out of the Middle East. The latter part of the bill should be especially welcome to the American public since its views on the Iraq war have turned even more negative in recent weeks.

A mid-April Gallup poll found that the highest proportion of the U.S. public ever now believes the decision to send troops to Iraq was a mistake: 63 percent believe it was a mistake versus just 36 percent who think it was not a mistake.

A mid-April ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that the public, by 2:1 (61 percent to 31 percent) believes that winning the war in Iraq was not necessary for winning the broader war on terrorism. This is the highest figure ever recorded on this question.

The public furthermore does not believe that civil order must be restored in Iraq before the United States can move to withdraw our troops from Iraq. In the same poll, a 56-41 majority rejected that proposition.

These data strongly suggest that if Congress does include provisions to start removing troops from Iraq in the supplemental spending bill, they will enjoy wide public support. President Bush, on the other hand, may be less happy. But isn’t it about time Congress started paying more attention to what the public wants and less to what the deeply unpopular Bush prefers?

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow