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Untruths: 64% Think Saddam Had Strong Links to al-Qaeda and 50% think Iraq had WMD
Harris Poll #57
July 21, 2006

Most people do not think that U.S. troops will be out of Iraq in the next two years

Despite being widely reported in the media that the U.S. and other countries have not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, surprisingly; more U.S. adults (50%) think that Iraq had such weapons when the U.S. invaded Iraq. This is an increase from 36 percent in February 2005. Overall, attitudes toward the war in Iraq are negative, and less than half of the U.S. population believes that the threat of terrorism has been reduced. U.S. adults are not confident that Iraq's government will eventually become stable, and many think the war in Iraq is continuing to hurt respect for the U.S. around the world. Most people do not think that U.S. troops will be out of Iraq in the next two years.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,020 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive® between July 5 and 11, 2006.

Specifically, the survey finds:

  • By 56 to 37 percent, a majority is not confident that Iraq will be successful in developing a stable and reasonably democratic government. This has improved slightly from November 2005, when a larger 61 to 32 majority felt this way.
  • Furthermore, a large 68 to 28 majority thinks the United States is less respected around the world as a result of the invasion in Iraq. This is worse from a year ago in June 2005 when, by 62 to 33, a majority felt the U.S. was less respected.

Attitudes toward the Iraq war

The public's views on Iraq have not changed substantially in the past year:

  • A majority (56%) thinks that spending huge sums of money to invade and occupy Iraq has meant that a lot less money has been available to protect the United States against another terrorist attack. This has decreased from April 2005 when 62 percent agreed with this sentiment.
  • Still, six in 10 (61%) adults agree (59% in April 2005) that invading and occupying Iraq has motivated more Islamic terrorists to attack the United States.
  • By 58 to 41 percent, a clear majority does not think that invading Iraq has helped to reduce the threat of another terrorist attack against the United States. This is similar to the 61 to 39 percent majority that felt this way in April 2005.

What the public believes to be true

U.S. adults believe that the following are true about the war in Iraq:

  • Seventy-two percent believe that the Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein (slightly down from February 2005 when 76 percent said this was true).
  • Just over half (55%) think history will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq (down substantially from 64% in February 2005).
  • Sixty-four percent say it is true that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (the same as 64% in February 2005).

TABLE 1

CONFIDENCE IN IRAQ TO DEVELOP STABLE AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT

"Are you confident that Iraq will be successful in developing a stable and reasonably democratic government?"

Base: All Adults

 

April 2005

June 2005

August 2005

November 2005

July 2006

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

43

41

40

32

37

No

55

51

56

61

56

Not sure/Refused

2

9

4

7

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100 percent due to rounding.

TABLE 2

IRAQ INVASION MADE UNITED STATES MORE OR LESS RESPECTED ABROAD

"Do you think the invasion of Iraq, and recent events in Iraq, have made the United States much more respected, somewhat more respected, somewhat less respected, or much less respected around the world?"

Base: All Adults

 

June 2004

August 2005

July 2006

%

%

%

More Respected (NET)

33

27

28

Much more respected

12

9

12

Somewhat more respected

21

18

16

Less Respected (NET)

62

68

68

Somewhat less respected

32

36

34

Much less respected

30

32

34

Not sure/refused

5

4

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100 percent due to rounding.

TABLE 3

STATEMENTS ABOUT IRAQ

"Please say whether you agree or disagree with the following statements?"

Base: All Adults

Agree

Disagree

Not Sure/ Refused

Invading and occupying Iraq has motivated more Islamic terrorists to attack Americans and the United States

July 2006

%

61

37

2

April 2005

%

59

40

1

April 2004

%

60

33

7

Spending huge sums of money to invade and occupy Iraq has meant that a lot less money has been available to protect the United States against another terrorist attack

July 2006

%

56

42

1

April 2005

%

62

37

1

April 2004

%

51

44

5

Invading Iraq has helped to reduce the threat of another terrorist attack against the United States 

July 2006

%

41

58

1

April 2005

%

39

61

*

April 2004

%

41

56

3

Most U.S. troops will be out of Iraq two years from now 

July 2006

%

33

62

4

April 2005

%

40

58

2

TABLE 4A

WHAT PUBLIC BELIEVES TO BE TRUE

"Do you believe that the following statements are true or not true?"

Total saying "true"

Base: All Adults

October 2004

February 2005

July 2006

%

%

%

The Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein.

76

76

72

Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda.

62

64

64

History will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.

63

64

55

Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded.

38

36

50

TABLE 4B

WHAT THE PUBLIC BELIEVES TO BE TRUE AND NOT TRUE - 2006

"Do you believe that the following statements are true or not true?"

Base: All Adults

 

%

True

Not True

Not Sure

Decline to Answer

The Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein.

%

72

22

5

1

Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda.

%

64

30

7

*

History will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.

%

55

43

3

-

Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded.

%

50

45

4

*

Methodology

This Harris Poll® was conducted by telephone within the United States between July 5 and 11, 2006 among 1,020 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 1,016 adults one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into account.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

J28335

Q460, Q484, Q485, Q487



©2006, Harris Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited without the express written permission of Harris Interactive.

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