Popular opinion in the United States on the invasion of Iraq

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M1A1 Abrams pose for a photo under the "Hands of Victory" in Ceremony Square, Baghdad, Iraq.

The United States public's opinion of the invasion of Iraq has changed significantly since the years preceding the incursion. For various reasons, mostly related to the unexpected consequences of the invasion, as well as misinformation provided by US authorities, the US public’s perspective on its government’s choice to initiate an offensive is increasingly negative. Before the invasion in March 2003, polls showed 47-60% of the US public supported an invasion, dependent on U.N. approval.[1] According to the same poll retaken in April 2007, 58% of the participants stated that the initial attack was a mistake.[2] In May 2007, the New York Times and CBS News released similar results of a poll in which 61% of participants believed the U.S. "should have stayed out" of Iraq.[3]


March 1992[edit]

In March 1992 55% of Americans said they would support sending American troops back to the Persian Gulf to remove Saddam Hussein from power.[4]

February 2001[edit]

Seven months prior to the September 11 attacks a Gallup poll showed that 52% would favor an invasion of Iraq while 42% would oppose it.[4] Additionally, 64% said that the U.S. should have removed Saddam at the end of the Gulf War.[5]

October 2002[edit]

Several prominent evangelical leaders of the Christian right sent the "Land Letter" to President Bush arguing a just war rationale for an invasion, citing Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of nuclear and biochemical weapons, and advocating immediate military action.[6]

January 2003[edit]

Protests in Portland, Oregon in March 2006

Approximately two-thirds of respondents wanted the government to wait for the UN inspections to end, and only 31% supported using military force immediately. This same poll showed that a majority believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but did not expect UN inspectors to find them. These numbers indicated a dramatic drop in support, as, two months prior, most polls showed about two-thirds of those polled supporting military action. However, about 60% of those polled also supported, if necessary, the use of military action to remove Saddam from power which closely mirrored recent polls taken by Time Magazine, CNN, Fox News, USA Today, CBS News, and other news organizations.[citation needed] Polls also showed that most Americans did not think that Saddam was co-operating with inspectors.[7]

Polls also suggested that most Americans would still like to see more evidence against Iraq, and for UN weapons inspections to continue before making an invasion. For example, an ABC news poll reported that only 10% of Americans favored giving the inspectors less than a few weeks; 41% favored giving them a few weeks, 33% a few months, and 13% more than that.[2]

A consistent pattern in the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion was that higher percentages of the population supported the impending war in polls that offered only two options (for or against) than in polls that broke down support into three or more options given (distinguishing unconditional support for the war, opposition to the war even if weapons inspectors do their job, and support if and only if inspection crews are allowed time to investigate first).

Some polls also showed that the majority of Americans believed that President Bush had made his case against Iraq. The Gallup poll, for example, found that 67% of those who watched the speech felt that the case had been made, which was a jump from 47% just prior the speech. However, many more Republicans than Democrats watched the speech, so this may not be an accurate reflection of the overall opinion of the American public. An ABC news poll found little difference in the percentage of Americans who felt that Bush has made his case for war after he had made his speech, with the percentage remaining at about 40%.[2]

February 2003[edit]

President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office, March 19, 2003, to announce the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." The Senate committee found that many of the administration's pre-war statements about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not supported by the underlying intelligence.

Following Powell's February 5 speech at the UN, most polls, like one conducted by CNN and NBC, showed increased support for the invasion. Tim Russert, NBC's Washington bureau chief, said the increases in support were "largely" due to president Bush's State of the Union speech in January and to Powell's presentation on February 5, which most viewers felt offered strong evidence for action against Iraq. Bush's approval ratings climbed seven points, and support for the invasion increased by four points. Only 27% opposed military action, the smallest percentage since the polls began in April 2002. The percentage of Americans supporting an invasion without UN support jumped eight points to 37%. 49% of those polled felt that President Bush had prepared the country for war and its potential risks, a 9-point jump from the previous month.[8] A Gallup poll showed the majority of the population erroneously believed Iraq was responsible for the attacks of September 11.

Anti-war demonstrations took place in more than 500 US cities, among them Cambridge (Massachusetts), Berkeley, New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Hollywood, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland (Oregon), Athens (Ohio), Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Oakland, Madison, Eugene, Detroit, and East Lansing. In several cases demonstrators were arrested. The protests reached their peak just before the Iraq War began.

March 2003[edit]

Days before the March 20 invasion, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll found support for the war was related to UN approval. Nearly six in 10 said they were ready for such an invasion "in the next week or two." But that support dropped off if the U.N. backing was not first obtained. If the U.N. Security Council were to reject a resolution paving the way for military action, 54% of Americans favored a U.S. invasion. And if the Bush administration did not seek a final Security Council vote, support for a war dropped to 47%.[1]

An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken after the beginning of the war showed a 62% support for the war, lower than the 79% in favor at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War.[2]

May 2003[edit]

A Gallup poll made on behalf of CNN and USA Today concluded that 89% of Americans thought the Iraq War was justified, with or without conclusive evidence of illegal weapons. 19% thought weapons were needed to justify the war.[9]

August 2004[edit]

An August 2004 poll showed that two-thirds (67%) of the American public believe the U.S. went to war based on incorrect assumptions.[10] The morale of the US troops has been subject to variations. Important issues are the vulnerability of the Humvee vehicles, and the great number of wounded and maimed soldiers [11] [12]

September 2004[edit]

A CBS poll showed that 54% of Americans believed the Iraq invasion was the right thing to do, up from 45% in July in the same poll.[13]

November 2004[edit]

George W. Bush was re-elected with a narrow 50.74% majority of the vote in the presidential election of November 2004.

May 2005[edit]

A Gallup poll from May 2005 showed that the American public has more confidence in the military than in any other institution. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the military.[14]

The change[edit]

June 2005[edit]

A Washington Post/ABC poll found that almost 60% of Americans thought the war should not have been fought in the first place. For the first time since the war started, over half of Americans polled believed the war had not made America safer.[15]

July 2005[edit]

On July 4, 2005 the National Council of Churches officially took a stand against the Iraq War calling it dishonorable and urging a change in U.S. policy.[16]

April 2006[edit]

A CBS news poll was conducted from 28–30 April 2006, nearly three years after President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech. 719 adults were polled nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percent. 30% of those polled approved of the way Bush was handling the Iraq situation, 64% disapproved, and 6% were unsure. 51% of those polled felt America should have stayed out of Iraq, 44% said the invasion was the right thing to do, with 5% unsure.[2]

July 2006[edit]

A CBS/New York Times poll was conducted from 21–25 July 2006. 1,127 adults were polled nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. Thirty percent of those polled said the invasion of Iraq was worth the American casualties and other costs, while 63% said the war was not worth it. Six percent was unsure. 32% said they approved of the way George W. Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, 62% disapproved, with six percent unsure.[2]

September 2006[edit]

A CBS/New York Times poll was conducted from 15–19 September 2006. 1,131 adults were polled nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. 51% of those polled said that, looking back, they felt that the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. 44% said the U.S. did the right thing in invading Iraq. Five percent were unsure.[2]

October 2006[edit]

A CNN poll was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation from 29 September to 2 October 2006. 1,014 adults were polled nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. 61% of those polled disapproved of the war in Iraq, 38% approved, with 1% unsure.[2]

A Newsweek poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on 26–27 October 2006. 1,002 adults were polled nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. When asked From what you know now, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or not?, 43% said it was the "Right Thing".[2]

November 2006[edit]

A Newsweek poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on 9–10 November 2006. 1,006 adults were polled nationwide. When asked if the U.S. did the right thing by going into Iraq, 41% responded yes, 54% responded no, with 5% unsure. The margin of error was plus or minus 3%.[2]

December 2006[edit]

A CNN poll taken on 15–17 December 2006, found that 67% polled opposed the war in Iraq, but that only and that a majority of 54% believed in an exit over the next year.[17] An LA times poll done a few days previously had found that 65% believe Iraq has become a civil war. The same poll found that 66% believed neither side was winning and only 26% of respondents agreed America should stay "as long as it takes". Both polls found that 2/3 or more of respondents disapproved of President Bush's handling of the war.

January 2007[edit]

A CBS poll of 993 nationwide adults taken on 1–3 January found that under 1 in 4 approve of Bush's Iraq policy, up 2 points from the last CBS poll in December.[18] The same poll finds that 82% believe the Democrats have not developed a "clear plan" and 76% believe the same is true of President Bush.[2]

A CNN poll conducted January 11 found that 32% of 1,093 adults polled 'strongly' or 'moderately' supported a planned increase in Iraqi troop levels, while 66% 'strongly' or 'moderately' opposed the plan. Three percent were unsure. The margin of error was plus or minus three percent.[2]

May 2007[edit]

On May 4–7, CNN polled 1,028 adults nationwide. 34% said they favored the war in Iraq, 65% opposed, and 1% was undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 3%.[2]

August 2007[edit]

On August 6–8, CNN polled 1,029 adults nationwide. 33% said they favored the war in Iraq, 64% opposed, and 3% was undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 3%.[2]

September 2007[edit]

On September 10–12, in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, 33% approved of George Bush's handling of the "situation in Iraq", while 65% disapproved of it.[2] On September 14-16, Gallup conducted a poll asking if the United States made mistake in sending troops to Iraq. 58% believed it was a mistake, 41% did not believed it was a mistake, and 1% had no opinion. [19]

December 2008[edit]

On December, 11-14, an ABC News/Washington Post Poll of 1,003 adults nationwide, found 64% felt the Iraq War was not worth fighting, with 34% saying it was worth fighting, with 2% undecided. The margin of error was 3%.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "USATODAY.com - Poll: Most back war, but want U.N. support". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "PollingReport.com Iraq Polls". Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ "Poll Shows View of Iraq War Is Most Negative Since Start". The New York Times. 25 May 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Inc., Gallup,. "Iraq". 
  5. ^ Public Opinion P. 130.
  6. ^ "Wikisource of Land Letter". Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  7. ^ "Poll: Talk First, Fight Later". 
  8. ^ "MSNBC — Breaking News, Top Stories, & Show Clips". 
  9. ^ Milbank, Dana; VandeHei, Jim (2003-05-17). "Washington Post May 1, 2003 Gallup poll". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  10. ^ http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "This story is no longer available - Washington Times". 
  11. ^ Isenberg, David (2003-10-02). "US wounded in the shadows". Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  12. ^ Vick, Carl (2004-09-05). "U.S. Troops in Iraq See Highest Injury Toll Yet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  13. ^ Roberts, Joel (2009-02-11). "Poll: Fading Support For Iraq War". CBS News. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  14. ^ "Military Tops Public Confidence List in New Gallup Poll". Archived from the original on 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  15. ^ Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane (8 June 2005). "Poll Finds Dimmer View of Iraq War, 52% Say U.S. Has Not Become Safer". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  16. ^ Scahill, Allison (2005-07-01). "Church leaders call on U.S. to change Iraq policy, end war". UMC.org. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  17. ^ "Poll: Approval for Iraq handling drops to new low". CNN. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  18. ^ "Poll: High Hopes For New Congress". CBS News. 2007-01-04. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  19. ^ "Iraq". Gallup News. Gallup. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  20. ^ "Iraq".