In a deceitful boost to Bush on the morning of his Iraq address, the Washington Post and ABC News released a poll of U.S. public opinion on Iraq. But the Post’s numbers in their print version (in the body of the article) underestimates the "Out Now" position by more than 3 times. One has to look at their actual numbers (Poll Data) to see that support for "staying the course" is much smaller than the article suggests.
The Washington Post published the results of their joint survey with ABC News on the front page yestertoday under the heading "Survey Finds Most Support Staying in Iraq – Public Skeptical About Gains Against Insurgents" by Richard Morin and Dan Balz.
The first two paragraphs read:
"a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that most Americans do not believe the administration’s claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country.
The survey found that only one in eight Americans currently favors an immediate pullout of U.S. forces, while a solid majority continues to agree with Bush that the United States must remain in Iraq until civil order is restored — a goal that most of those surveyed acknowledge is, at best, several years away."
The article misrepresents the actual numbers as published under "Poll Data" which can be accessed through the article’s webpage
Question #7 under "Poll Data" reads: "Do you think the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means continued U.S. military casualties; OR, do you think the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if it means civil order is not restored there?
Keep forces = 58%
Withdraw forces = 41%
No opinion = 2%
41% is just over two out of five, not "one in eight" (12.5%) as the second paragraph suggests. And 8% over half is not a "solid majority" for "staying the course." It would be more accurately described as a "slim majority!
I have studied the Poll Data, and I don’t know where the Post gets "one in eight" for immediate pullout.
The graph on the website that reads "Just your best guess, about how much longer do you think the United States will need to keep U.S. military forces in Iraq?" (Question #15) shows just 6% support "pull out now," which is not "one in eight;" it’s less than half that: one in sixteen. But Question #15 can be understood as a strategic and not a political question, and so it is not as reliable question of U.S. support for continued occupation vs withdrawal as question #7.
If this was an accident, it was a pretty sloppy one.
MIKE SCHAEFER can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org