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Parsing the Polls: Iraqis on Iraq

Dwindling support for the Iraq war among the American public has dominated the U.S. political debate for months, prompting President George W. Bush to give a series of speeches outlining his administration's strategy for victory.  Surveys show that a majority of Americans disapprove of the White House's handling of the war, but there has been an extremely limited amount of survey research to measure how Iraqis view the war and the continued American presence.

Thanks to a new survey sponsored by a partnership of international media organizations (ranging  from ABC to Der Spiegel to the BBC), we now have a wealth of information -- much of it somewhat contradictory -- through which to sort. The poll, which was conducted on the ground by Oxford Research International, was in the field from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22.  It tested a sample of 1,711 Iraqis ages 15 and up; it has a 2.5 percent margin of error.  Interviews were conducted in Arabic and Kurdish. This document on the BBC's Web site breaks down respondents by province.

The Fix culled a few of the most interesting tidbits below, but I'd encourage you to scour the full survey here and add your own observations in the comments section below.

* Much like the gender gap in American politics, the poll found a major chasm between persons living in predominantly Shiite areas versus those living in predominantly Sunni areas, perhaps not surprising given that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein cast the Sunnis out of power and emboldened the Shiites. On almost every major issue, those in Shiite areas are considerably more positive than those in Sunni areas about the current state of affairs in Iraq. Fifty-nine percent of respondents from the Shiite areas believe America had the right to invade Iraq compared to just seven percent of those in the Sunni areas. Eighty percent of respondents from the Shiite areas said they "feel very safe" in the country; just 11 percent of those in the Sunni areas said the same.  And while 82 percent of respondents in the Shiite areas said they approve of the Iraqi constitution passed in an October national referendum, just 27 percent of those living in predominantly Sunni areas shared that opinion. The divergence of opinion and perspective among the two groups casts into doubt whether tomorrow's elections will effectively unify the various factions in Iraq.

* While Iraqis are overwhelmingly content with their own lives and believe their situations will improve in the next year, they are much more pessimistic about the country's welfare as a whole.  Seventy-one percent of those tested said their lives are either "very good" (22 percent) or "quite good" (49 percent) compared to 29 percent who see their lives as "bad." Roughly two-thirds of those tested said their lives in 2006 will be either "much" or "somewhat" better.

* Asked how things were going in Iraq generally, 46 percent said "good" compared with 52 percent choosing "bad." The optimism returned when respondents were asked how things would be for Iraq generally in the next year. A net 69 percent said "better" while 11 percent said "worse" and 11 percent suggested things would be "about the same."

* Support for the U.S. invasion and continued coalition presence continues to decline among Iraqis.  Forty-six percent said the invasion was the right thing to do compared to 50 percent who said it was the wrong move. That is a reversal from a similar poll conducted in February 2004 that showed a 48-39 right/wrong split. As for the "presence of coalition forces in Iraq, just 32 percent support them while 65 percent are opposed.  That is a much wider gap than the 39 percent-51 percent support/oppose number in the February 2004 poll.

* Iraqis, like Americans, are divided about when coalition forces should leave. Twenty-six percent favor an immediate withdrawal while 19 percent want the troops remain until the Iraqi government that will be elected in tomorrow's vote takes office. Thirty-one percent say the forces should "remain until security is restored"  while 16 percent advocate a coalition presence "until the Iraqi security forces can operate independently."

What did I miss? Add your own thoughts on the survey in the comments section.

For further reading,'s Jeff Morley looked at how the BBC and Der Spiegel covered the survey's findings.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 14, 2005; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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Bill - Excellent post, as opposed to most of the Bush-hating drivel on here. If Iraq becomes a functioning democracy, that does not allow a terrorist base, and is not reflexively anti-Western, and can somehow overcome its internal contradictions (all big ifs), then I think this operation will be viewed in historical terms as a success. While we can't do everything, that doesn't mean we should do nohing. And if the rest of the Arab world sees Iraqis living a certain way, with certain political rights, it may lead them to pressure their own corrupt dictators to allow them the same opportunities.
But none of this will be apparent next week, month, or year. The jury will be out awhile. We can and will help, but the Iraqis have to do this themselves. Maybe they will.

Posted by: Butch | December 15, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Is the US presence actually contributing to security? Are the US forces effective in their battle agaisnt the Iraqi resistance?

Don't seeem to be as violence escalates despite anything the army does... And why on earth does anyone think the US presence can actually stop a civil war if it can't do anything to effect the level of resistance.

Why not try giving the iraqis what they really want. Leave. They then have nothing to resist and Americans can stop dying. And wasting their tax money on this doubtful exercise.

Posted by: rick | December 15, 2005 12:25 PM | Report abuse

TO: Steve from Austin (former US military in Iraq): I respect what you said and I respect your military service in Iraq without reservation. Yet perhaps you can answer the following questions: (1) Precisely what is meant by "victory" in our Iraq occupation? (2) Precisely what is the "Mission" (Bush's words) in Iraq and how will average Americans know whether or not it succeeded or failed? (3) If a democratic government is established in one country, Iraq, specifically how will that limit the activities of terrorist organizations, and their financiers, in all the other parts of the world? (4) Precisely why do defenders of the Iraqi occupation think that democratizing Iraq will serve toward preventing "another 9/11" ? (5)If we spend about $250 billion attacking, democratizing, and then rebuilding Iraq, in what form will the American taxpayers get their return on that investment? I would like to see intelligent answers to these questions from anybody reading this, with no BS please. Thanks.

Posted by: Bill | December 14, 2005 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I think Iraq was created in 1920, with the British influence. The Brits wanted a central government with which they could contract to extract the oil. The problem with Iraq is that it is artificial. It lacks cultural and ethnic homogeneity. You have ethnic Kurds and ethnic Arabs. You have Sunnis, the more dominant sect of Islam in the bordering countries and in Western and Central Iraq, and you have have Shiites, the more dominate sect in Eastern and Southern Iraq and in Iran. Can a real secular democracy function under those conditions? Personally I doubt it.

Posted by: Bill | December 14, 2005 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The opinion survey is the most optimistic item I have seen. Yet Iraqis still do not have experience in the compromise, the adaptibility, the patience, the respect for (and adherence to) a complex system of laws passed by a secular body. Virtually universal public acceptance of the authority of a central, elected government is necessary for a true democracy to function. Is that possible in a culture so dominated by Islam and so dominated by hostility between Sunni and Shiite? Is that possible when the dominant interest of the Kurds is for an independent Kurdistan? Is that possible in the wake of brutalization of the Shiites by the Baathist Sunnis under Saddam, following by revenge brutalization of Sunnis by the Shiite dominated police force? The acid test of democracy in Iraq is not how many Iraqi show up to vote, nor in the structure of the Consituation, but instead in the degree to which 25 million people eventually accept, or do not accept, the authority of a central ruling body in Bahgdad, and thereafter obey the secular laws created therein.

Posted by: Bill | December 14, 2005 9:02 PM | Report abuse

No WMD, no link to the World Trade Center bombings, no reason to be there except someone in power thinks it might be in their best interests to have the military there.........

Who trained the pilots that were flying the planes?

Posted by: The war? | December 14, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post. But I forgot to include Question 13 C, which shows that a majority of Iraqis think that these instances will be better in the next year.

Posted by: Noah | December 14, 2005 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone. First I would like to put in a good word for the reporter who created this blog. Chris (I can't spell his last name) is a political reporter. I really do not see any bias in his reporting, except for the bias of a person who has been studying politics for years and thus is more of a realist in how he judges the current poltical atmosphere and knows how transitory events are in politics.

I really think that the most interesting aspect of this poll that Chris brought up is Question 13 B. This question judges whether in a several instances, such as security, availability of jobs and services and so on, whether there is a change from prior to the invasion to now. In each instance, except for the freedom of speech of individuals, a plurality, sometimes a large plurality, feel that things are the same as before the war. I really think this is the key issue. If there were no weapons, no links to terrorism, then the only justification for the war is to reform Iraq. I never believed in the war, but since we're there I would hope we could reform Iraq. Yet, this poll indicates that not much has changed for Iraqis since the war began. How then do we justify our war there.

Also to respond to Roland Nelson. I also believe that our troops in Iraq are not helping defeat Al Qaida, but are trying to hold together a country that was artificially created by the British less than 100 years ago. But I just checked the CIA World Factbook and discovered that there is no Iraq-Afghanistan border. Iraq borders Iran, which borders Afghanistan.

Posted by: Noah | December 14, 2005 7:44 PM | Report abuse

We don't always tell the truth about things as an operation proceeds....

Grenada, El Salvador/Guatemala, Argentina, Iran, Puerto Rico "Remember the Maine," wasn't Noriega squeaking about how he had done what Nixon asked him to as they hauled him away?

And after all we really did help the Kurds out after "Desert Storm," didn't we? Blowing in the wind....didn't we? Our leaders don't have the same morals that we hope they do.....they do what is best for their class....we're helping to bring democracy to AfreeKa by selling them out old arms? Comeon.

Democracy is important....let's have some here at home....anybody afraid to post? You should be. Libraries being watched, cameras everywhere, chips in your cars, dna profiling....

Historically, the world works by blame. You want to change the world, change thing to work so that identifying problems also means that they get everyone.

We got fat people, fix it. We got poor stupid people, change their situation, it'll change everyones. There is no real separation except for the very rich....even Cosby's son isn't safe in a world where property is more important than you are.

Posted by: I guess the other thing is that you keep forgetting that | December 14, 2005 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Not as much any more, but yes he has done just might find yourself posting to yourself if you put out something that makes him feel insignificant....justsoyahno....

And yes disinformation is the way to go if you have money to advertise, a budget isn't a problem...

That's why was the poor man's panacea to the disinformation trend and who's attacking them, why the wealthy landed disinformationists.....

Liberal, Conservatives....I could care less as long as they tell the truth. Information is information.

When a war isn't a war then, hey why not call it militaristic intervention by an imperialist nation that has managed to massage the news enough to make it seem like a good idea.

Posted by: Actually Chris does censor redirect blog comments | December 14, 2005 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to double post but this is in response to Susanna.

As a former member of the U.S. Military and having served in Baghdad for a year, I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Iraqi people.

When I was there, while we were able to influence the security situation, we could not be everywhere at once. Therefore, the terrorists and religious extremists still controlled the neighborhoods and bullied or threatened the normal Iraqi civilians who are just trying to make a living. By coming out and supporting free elections or signing up for the Iraqi police and military forces, these people are performing acts of bravery and heroism on a daily basis.

Islam is not the enemy. But, like any other religion, idea, or opinion, it is a useful and dangerous tool when taken to the extreme. Let us not forget how Christianity came into power by persecuting the pagans and other religions at the time.

The root of intolerance is ignorance and ignorance cannot be cured by isolation. We must seek to associate with that which we do not understand, if only just to expand our awareness as individuals.

Posted by: Steve from Austin | December 14, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Given up: "But I do have to grant that they don't censor these blog comments..."

You must have missed when Sleezy + Co deleted an entire thread b/c of one shadow poster (who assumed the name of someone else). granted the poster was wrong but that was a serious goof imho. BUT, overall, I agree 100% with you that the post is worthless. Anybody with a crouton for a brain who really wanted to do some investigative journalism could blow this whole popsicle stan to smithereens. I have tried several times to contact Sleezy (I stopped being polite after several attempts at any sort of explanation for his blatant bias) and also the WaPo ombudswoman, neither of whom give a fig abt their readership.

Susanna, I appreciate your comments, and would love to respond, but I dont quite understand your question! If it is my blanket animosity for the President and/or biased reporting of Cilliza that you are referring to, my reasoning is that I personally do not like being lied to, and I feel it is my DUTY as an American to point out transgressions against fellow Americans. In terms of a "fighting stance," do you not fight for your rights when you feel they are being impinged upon? Perhaps I am just a passionate individual, but I am not passionate about FIGHTING nor adversarial relationships, but democracy and freedom "of the people by the people and for the people." Topically, I have detailed rationale for all of my stances, and they are not ideological, but based on empirical fact and investigation.

Another quick comment, I wonder why it is that you increasingly "really do not like Islam." Do you personally know muslims? Or are you basing your position on prejudicial generalities? If so, I ask that you reconsider your position until you have had significant personal contact with muslims on a regular basis. In my experience I have found none, repeat NONE that match the "islamo-fascist" profile. Again, that is in MY experience. I do have extreme animosity for terrorism but I do not associate terrorists as such with Islam save for extremists. And anyone who thinks that Christians and Jews, are groups that are FREE of extremist violence has obviously never heard of the KKK or Yitzhak Rabin.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 14, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse

All this poll tells me is that Iraqi's don't like the situation they're in but they don't feel like there are any better alternatives. Also, they are under just as much political propaganda and media influence as we are.

The biggest indicator to me that media has a great influence on public Iraqi opinion is the fact that the majority of those polled personally feel safe (Q35) and feel Iraqi security stations are very or quite good (Q13) but, for Iraq as a whole, security and stability is still the problem that received the highest priority or most responses (Q8, Q12, Q14, Q37). Therefore, the majority of the Iraqi's questioned still go out of their way to avoid trouble (Q36).

Apparently, things are going well in their neighborhoods/villages by their own observations, but the rest of Iraq is still a mess from what they hear. Think media coverage is skewed?

Posted by: Steve from Austin | December 14, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Well hi Fair and Balanced,

The study you recommend is definitely several notches up from an quicky opion poll.

What I'm not clear about is how you reach the conclusions, or should I say attitude, you do ?

I could be adversarial, but I'm honestly interested in why you would view almost blanket animosity as a prompting for battle, except that clear adversion is a fighting stance.

This is key I think. Is the fact people hate us so completely our reason for being there?

And let's be frank, is our hatred of an Al Jazeera informed society a reason to be aggressors?

I'm not saying it isn't a good reason. But maybe it's time to be honest in combination with the brutality of this war. Brutally honest. Is the US, in fact, in a war against Islam?

As someone living here in Massachusetts it is very easy for me to dislike Islam. I really do not like Islam, increasingly. I'm being honest, and don't mean offense to individuals.

How do soldiers feel after being in the Middle East? Is there increasing respect and understanding do you think? or is there an unshakable sense of repugnance for those who have grown up in the US?

These are the tough questions, that public opinion polls don't ask.

My experience, having grown up with the civil rights movement is : honesty matters. You can't overcome what you won't admit.

Posted by: Susanna | December 14, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

F&B: Not just Cilliza, but the Post in general has been 100% compliant with the Administration's Disinformation War against the American people. I'm not surprised at any delusional reality that they help perpetuate anymore.

But I do have to grant that they don't censor these blog comments, so those wanting to peer out of Alice's rabbithole once in awhile can have our meager say. And occasionally in the online Chats they will hint at an awareness of the part they are playing in keeping the public in the dark.

Except, that is, for Howard Kurtz - who is worthless. If it isn't an inane tabloid issue, it doesn't grab him. And he won't go near any of the official disinfo campaigns with a ten foot pole. I have pretty much decided he's on the White House Williams/Gallagher "retirement plan". If he's a "media critic", I'm the King of England.

Posted by: Given up on the Post | December 14, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse


You must be one of those pinko commie socialist anti-American coward cut-and-run tax-and-spend gay-marriage-loving birkenstock-wearing LIEberal DEMONcrats we all hear so much about who want nothing more than to provide sanctuary to Osama and to destroy Christmas and kill Santa Claus.

FLopez astutely pointed out: "Well, maybe you can not be killed by a specific dictator by by a militia mortar, a hand-made religious bomb or a prone foreign missile."

Yeah, but F, Freedom isnt Free, we're fighting them there so we dont have to fight them here. It's part of our Victory Strategy. We're liberating the Middle East and conquering the Terrorists. Mission Accomplished.

In case you both can't tell, theres just a wee bit of sarcasm hidden in there ;)

btw Sleeza, I can't imagine that you've ever heard of Shibley Telhami, he's only the world expert on Arab Opinion and the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Since you would NEVER (God forbid) include another voice other than US/EU/White People, here is the 3rd Annual poll on Arab Attitudes Toward U.S., Iraq, Arab Media.

lots of great data there.

and Chris, just in case you wanted to do some reporting:

Neil Tickner
301-257-0073 (cell)

but it prob doesnt slant GOP, so you prob wouldnt be interested.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 14, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Catch-22, disfunction of government, addiction [oil], corruption, government debt compromising all of our futures, international ill-will [to put it mildly]


Heroic sense of Military Duty
[This is the poll I would really like to see, what do our fighting men and women REALLY think in the privacy of their own minds]

The Telegraph story says it all, albeit referring to a different poll on Iraqi sentiment:

"Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow defence minister, said last night that the poll [undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph] clearly showed a complete failure of Government policy.

He said: "This clearly states that the Government's hearts-and-minds policy has been disastrous. The coalition is now part of the problem and not the solution.
Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow defence minister, said last night that the poll clearly showed a complete failure of Government policy.

He said: "This clearly states that the Government's hearts-and-minds policy has been disastrous. The coalition is now part of the problem and not the solution.
"I am not advocating a pull-out but if British soldiers are putting their lives on the line for a cause which is not supported by the Iraqi people then we have to ask the question, 'what are we doing there?' "

Okay. So the conclusion is WHAT ? Our presence is a disaster, but we cannot discuss leaving.


Posted by: susanna | December 14, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

As a citizen of a third world country (Dominican Republic) I can not understand how a country at war with militias, religious, and foreign armed forces fighting each other with a civilian population in the middle, who until recently was under the governance of a dictator can be living a better live. Well, maybe you can not be killed by a specific dictator by by a militia mortar, a hand-made religious bomb or a prone foreign missile.

This is what we called "paid press" in my country.

F Lopez

Posted by: Frank Lopez | December 14, 2005 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Here's one you missed, Chris. A secret study done by the British DOD which was leaked to the UK Independent in October (but completely ignored by our domesticated media, of course). It paints a much more negative picture of Iraqi attitudes toward the coalition presence.


The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces. It reveals:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

Posted by: InternationalNewsReader | December 14, 2005 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to double post. A correction of sorts.

What stood out to me most in the poll was the dramatic difference in opinion between Sunnis and Shiites. [i.e. the perspectives of those who benefited and who didn't from occupation]

In my own thinking I was relating the gender gap poll with the gap between Sunni and Shia differences in opinion. This is not the same comparison the article was making.

What it WAS trying to do with the comparison between gender gap in the US and US occupation in Iraq, still strikes me as a non sequitor at best. At worst, a strange insult all around.

Posted by: Susanna | December 14, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ROLAND NELSON | December 14, 2005 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ROLAND NELSON | December 14, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Patterson, your observations are spot on.

Like all "facts", polling results can be manipulated into any number of meanings. It has already pointed out, that the numbers themselves are filled with the same ambiguities and conflicting interests as held by those questioned [and perhaps the questioners : what wasn't asked, how was a question presented, etc].

Dissecting the poll itself is one thing. And there was almost no critical evaluation in the article, including any expert explanations for of contradictory results.

Beginning that process with biased presentation only makes the generation of meaning from the effort more difficult.

The most glaring to me was the immediate comparison of Sunni Shiite differences of opinion with a poll on "Gender Gap". If you click on the link to this poll, you will see that the Gap between the sexes in American presidential elections is a matter of only a few percentage points. And this was in answer to questions like, who did you vote for : Dole, Gore, or Bush. Not very ambiguous questions.

The very idea of comparing Iraqi views on occupation, what form of government should they have, conditions of living, etc. with the gender gap in America is bizaar. In a sense it also presents a strange bias regarding gender and politics here. Is he trying to say that the political differences between men and women are like the near civil war differences between Sunni's and Shiites?

I do find the poll interesting, especially the contradictions in it.

Posted by: Susanna | December 14, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse


The proper headline for this story, in good journalism, could as easily have been: "74% of Iraqis do not favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops"

Polls can be spun either way, which is why they have no real value in determining objective reality.


Posted by: JimmyMack | December 14, 2005 1:11 PM | Report abuse

What do they think makes them better off? Higher oil prices, greater national revenue... or improved conditions for human rights?

Posted by: Cahrley Cox | December 14, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Chris; let me edit this from another perspective, here's your version;

"Asked how things were going in Iraq generally, 46 percent said "good" compared with 52 percent choosing "bad."

As I recall from journalism 101, this should be reported as "asked how things were going in Iraq generally, 52 percent said "bad" compared with 46 percent choosing "good."

It may seem subtle to some, but it represents a systemic "leaning" in my book, and symbolic of how the media has been coerced into unwitting compliance.

It is a good example of how even our better journalists and publications have bent to pressure to put a positive spin on bad administration policies.

The only other question you asked that relates to TODAY, on the ground, this moment in time, had to do with the presence of our troops on Iraqi soil.

Why, if 65% of them oppose it, (the biggest factor of agreement on the part of all Iraqis), the number was buried at the end of a paragraph where the typical skim-reader never treads.

You headline for this story, in good journalism, should have read "65% of Iraqis want U.S. out," everything else is just speculation and emotional baiting.

This subtle "shadow propaganda" permeates the mainstream media. All you have to do to see the truth is to lay the same story next to a European or Canadian version and these subtleties become apparent.


Posted by: John Patterson | December 14, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Dan Balz's Dec. 12 (Monday) article on Hillary Clinton's position on Withdrawal, calling her "centrist" is NOT, as the so called LIBERALS know...the ANTI WAR PEACE activists know that SHE VOTED FOR THE IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION and her reluctance to get out now not later is NOT a surprise at all.

Her vote was HER. If it was NOT and simply endorsement of ANATHEMA/BUSH because he is PRESIDENT, obviously she is not even close to the proper TIMBER for PRESIDENT in any ANY future election. Waffling and trying to look good is NOT a SOLID senator, let alone a WOULD TAKE IT IF YOU GIVE IT -- The media has to clue her in? NO. What does it take to be president? War? NO. Peace, well done, let's hope so.


Posted by: Goldpost | December 14, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Dan Balz's Dec. 12 (Monday) article on Hillary Clinton's position on Withdrawal, calling her "centrist" is NOT, as the so called LIBERALS know...the ANTI WAR PEACE activists know that SHE VOTED FOR THE IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION and her reluctance to get out now not later is NOT a surprise at all.

Her vote was HER. If it was NOT and simply endorsement of ANATHEMA/BUSH because he is PRESIDENT, obviously she is not even close to the proper TIMBER for PRESIDENT in any ANY future election. Waffling and trying to look good is NOT a SOLID senator, let alone a WOULD TAKE IT IF YOU GIVE IT -- The media has to clue her in? NO. What does it take to be president? War? NO. Peace, well done, let's hope so.


Posted by: Goldpost | December 14, 2005 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Looking at the full results on the BBC website, I find it interesting that 90% of the respondents said the best thing that could happen to Iraq (Q8) was likely to happen (Q9), while 51% think that the worst thing that could happen to Iraq (Q10) was also likely to happen (Q11). "Security" and "peace and stability" account for 52% of the possible best things that could happen to Iraq, while "lack of security/chaos," "civil war/internal trouble," and "terrorism" account for 44% of the worst list.

Like we safely here in the US, Iraqis simply do not know what is going to happen. But even if the half who think the worst things are likely to happen are right, they still ultimately believe that peace will happen in the next year. Many situations worse than Iraq have been conquered by such hope. We should respect that.

As an American, I also have difficulty parsing the qualitative difference between "quite" -- a qualifier not often used here in normal conversation -- and "very." I suspect this was a British influence. For, at least here in America, it does not carry the same meaning as "somewhat," which is typically used in American polls.

Posted by: Jeff | December 14, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"As for the presence of coalition forces in Iraq, just 32 percent support them while 65 percent are opposed."

And yet 47 percent (31+16) want them to stay for now?

So 15 percent don't support their presence - but still want them to stay..?

Posted by: Andy | December 14, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Good comments Andrew. It is also greatly hinging on the definition or further explanation of the terms.

For example, the Shiia who support the constitution may only support it because they can institute Sharia Law and utilize their new power to make the Sunnis suffer (as they have been doing so far (

Does that mean that Bush's idealistic goal of force-feeding democracy to the Middle East is going to come true? No way. Quite the opposite in fact. But i'll bet dollars to donuts that we're going to see the GOP use the "pro-constitution" poll numbers as a sign of impending victory.

The real winners, again, are the Ayatollas (sp.), torture and corruption, multinational oil barons and Iran. The Losers are Israel, the United States and peace in the Middle East. Heckuva job Georgie.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 14, 2005 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Two observations: first, perhaps Iraqis feel optimistic precisely because they can see the day coming closer when the invaders will leave. Second, given the history of opression in Iraq, before and after Saddam Hussein's outser, I wonder how candid respondents would be. If I thought that my answeres might result in a stay at Abu Graib, or one of the Iraqi prisons we have heard about recently, I'd be pretty circumspect in answering.

Posted by: Captain Spaulding | December 14, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

In order for me to put these poll figures in context I need to know the population of each sect. And the numbers of each group that were polled.
What are there feelings of dividing up the country and making it three seperate countries or seperate states would seem more approperate to me so that the wealth would lie with the national goverment.

Posted by: Andrew | December 14, 2005 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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