Monday, July 31, 2006

Supporting the Iraq War: See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Poll after poll over the last year has shown dwindling support for the Iraq War.

For the first time, a Pew Research survey this month showed a majority of Americans (50 percent) feel the US made the wrong decision by invading Iraq three years ago. A recent Gallup poll backs up this opposition to the war by finding that 52 percent of Americans want the US to pull out of Iraq within a year.

Not surprisingly, the support for the war that remains comes mostly from people who identify themselves as Republican. In fact, a NY Times article over the weekend argued that the Iraq War has polarized the US along partisan lines like no other conflict in recent memory – and that includes the Vietnam War.

A recent Times/CBS poll showed that three out of every four Republicans think the Iraq War was the right move for US foreign policy, while only 1 in 4 Dems feel the same. Independents are split between the two sides, although they have been moving closer to the Democratic position on Iraq lately.

These polls are particularly interesting in light of a Pew Research survey on news-watching trends that was released over the weekend.

The survey found that over the past two years, the number of people who follow news about Iraq “very closely” has declined from 54 percent to 43 percent. And parsing those numbers a little more shows that it’s Republican viewers who are driving those numbers down the most.

In 2004, it was Republicans who were most likely to follow news about Iraq “very closely” – 59 percent told Pew that they did. The figures at the time were 55 percent for Dems and 50 percent for Independents.

In 2006, those numbers have nearly reversed. Now only 41 percent of Republicans claim to watch the news about Iraq “very closely” – an 18 point drop from two years ago – while 50 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Independents say that they do.

Without question, it’s difficult for anyone to consistently and closely follow the bad news that pours out of Iraq on a daily basis.

It’s just interesting that it seems to be the most difficult for those who still actually support the war.

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