August 9th, 2007
06:51 PM ET
11 years ago

Poll: America can, but won't, win the war in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) - America can win the war in Iraq, but most Americans think that, in the end, the country won't succeed, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Thursday.

"Most Americans think that the war is winnable - and that's a notable change since March - but a majority still doesn't think that the U.S. will win," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Back in 2004, just 37 percent thought the U.S. would not win in Iraq, but by 2006, that number had grown to 56 percent, essentially where it is today."

According to the poll, 54 percent of Americans do think that the country has the ability to win the war in Iraq, but fewer people think America is currently winning or will win the war. Only 32 percent think the United States is winning and 42 percent think the country will win in the end.

But the Bush administration still may have convinced more people that the war in Iraq is worthwhile. Now, 33 percent of Americans favor the war, as opposed to the all-time low of 30 percent in June.

The poll is based interviews with 1,029 adults. The question on the war's favorability has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, and the other questions have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Anonymous, Calif

    Sure it can be done...but it would cost so much money, resources and added blood it amounts to nothing more than a Pyhrric victory.

    Meanwhile Bin Laden is alive and well and the real enemy is regrouping.

    August 9, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Stephen from Wantagh, NY

    Can someone define winning? Who is the enemy we are trying to defeat? If by win you mean inflict more casualties then we receive, sure we can win. If you mean suppress and disarm the sectarian militias, it's doable, though at a much greater cost than anyone is willing to shoulder. If you mean to stop fundamentalism, sectarian strife or terrorism, then no. There is no way for the US to win that war. A foreign army can't change the way people think. It can only stop them from acting while it is still present.

    August 9, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Brad, Columbia, SC

    It always pains me to see data being skewed in the hands of the numerically incompetant.

    "54 percent of Americans do think that the country has the ability to win the war in Iraq..."

    "...margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent."

    THAT MEANS that the figure could just as possibly be 49.5 percent as 58.5 percent.

    So, if it is in fact possible that less than 50 percent of Americans think the war can be won, how can CNN POSSIBLY be justified in saying, without qualification, that "most Americans think that the war is winnable"????

    I don't think this is splitting hairs to quibble over a half a percentage point. The fact is the data can break to either side of 50 percent, and any news outlet needs to demonstrate responsibility in interpreting such data.

    CNN, either just give us the raw statistics and let us interpret them ourselves, or if you can't actually be faithful to the data, don't even bother.

    August 9, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    We WON the war in about 15 minutes.

    It is Iraq who has FAILED to establish a solid democracy.

    We have certainly done EVERYTHING we could to help them and it finally seems to be paying off but in the end it is THEIR job to come together and form a solid democracy.

    The only reason many Americans think we aren't winning the war is because media outlets like CNN have been pounding it into their heads for the past 3 years that we are not winning the war.

    The Democrats campaigning for Congress and the White House have added to this general "consensus" so it's no suprise that we see poll #'s like this.

    August 9, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. Mark Bergeen, San Diego CA

    The problem with this poll is that the question is essentially void. It is not that this war is "winnable" or not, but whether it has an ending or not. This war will be lost by both sides, and already has.

    August 9, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. David, Salinas, CA

    Setting aside the fact that our President declared an end to major combat operations in his “mission accomplished” speech on May 1, 2003... I’m not sure I understand the question.

    Just whose side are we on?

    Don’t get me wrong, I know bin Laden is our enemy, but he’s in Pakistan or Afghanistan somewhere.

    I know the 9/11 terrorists were our enemies, but they were mostly from Saudi Arabia.

    As near as I can tell, Al-Qaeda weren’t a factor in Iraq before we got there, and they won’t be after we leave.

    Meanwhile we’ve got 158,000 troops on the ground in Iraq and according to your poll most Americans think we can “win”.

    And I don’t have the slightest idea what that means.

    What does winning look like in Iraq?

    Resolution of the Shia/Sunni schism?

    Peace in the streets and basic services for the populace?

    An increase in oil exports?

    Unconditional surrender of the insurgency?

    What exactly constitutes victory in someone else’s civil war?

    I’m not trying to be ironic or sarcastic or glib in any way. I truly don’t understand.

    And what scares me most is that I don’t think the people in the White House, the Pentagon or the 56% of your poll understand, either.

    August 9, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. Connie, Louisville, Tn.

    What do you mean by "winning" the war in Iraq? Is that when we kill all Iraq citizens and occupy the country? What about all the other Middle East countries that hate us? Just some questions to think about..

    August 9, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. Chris Kankakee, IL

    People do not like war or wars that get involed in other nations politics.
    I hope for conservatives sake in april Iraq will be totally stabilized and troops ready to come home. I think it just may be possible if the iraqi government does its job. We have war the war in Iraq when Sadam fell. We have not succeded in stabilizing the country, liberals need to regonize that
    and stop saying weve lost. Lastly there were WMD's there us and Israel thought it alot of Iraqi weapons have been found scattered around the world
    just not the major WMD's have not been confirmed found if we blew up Iran and Pakistan the sent in our troops Im sure wed find them but Americas to sissy to be truly cappable of that
    people just have not learned appeasement does not work Hitler would be in hog heaven in todays society.
    But that's just my opinion, believe what you want its your right.

    August 9, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  9. Tim Ha, Madison, Wisconsin

    I have a really hard time believing this poll's accuracy. What has changed that's caused public opinion to shift dramatically? Nothing, that's what, except that more American troops are dead.

    You guys didn't use the right kind of polling, and you fell into the same trap that half of the pollsters who shout predictions from the rooftops make.

    August 9, 2007 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. Jennifer, Roslindale, MA

    Boy, I can see why there are no comments on these articles: they say nothing! What were the questions? What were the choices for the answers? Somebody needs to train these writers on how to write clear, newsworthy pieces.

    August 9, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. James S. Payne, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    It is sad that so many good Americans share Bush's total lack of comprehension of history. As I tell my students," If one cannot or will not look upstream into the River of History, they lack the ability or willingness to look downstream to see the rocks and rapids ahead." America is based on an educated citizenry. An excellent text to illuminate this principle is Barbara Tuchman's "The Pursuit of Folly." The patterns are there. Look. Study. That is what the Founding Fathers expected of us.

    August 9, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    How can we Win in Iraq when there is nothing to actually win? Didn't we accomplish our original goals, no WMD no Saddam, free democratic elections. Now we expanded our goals beyond what any foreign government can accomplish. What do these 40% expect to win?

    August 9, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  13. doriangrey

    So the question unasked is, if America can win the war but probably will not, why will America not win?

    August 10, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  14. Jim, Woodstock, IL

    I wonder how many of that 33% still think Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Or think there was an operational connection between Saddam and Osama. I think if everyone knew the facts (as presented by the President, and the Congress), the percentage would be a lot smaller.

    President Bush has been very careful in his speeches to refute any connection but somehow the myths persist. Even Mitt Romney fell prey to it during the Iowa debate.

    August 10, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  15. Cory Brown, Marion OH

    Let's think rationally about this. What is America winning in Iraq?

    Counterinsurgency does not win wars. I don't believe that America can win the Iraq War. Our intelligence lacked massively entering into the war; we did not understand the culture, nor did we ever fathom that it would be prolonged. Kaiser Wilhelm made the same mistake in WWI, Hitler made the same mistake in WWII, and we made the same mistake in Vietnam. To create peace in Iraq would entail us staying for the long haul. Until then, we are stuck in a quagmire. Either way, there is no winning.

    August 10, 2007 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  16. Pradip Bhatt, Schaumburg, IL

    I really donot understand what a WIN in Iraq means.

    What good is a win when the thousands and millions of people have been displaced, so many children gone without attending schools, so many young man and woman have lost their limbs or their loved ones..and so many soldiers and Iraqies have died.
    Win with so much human loss is never a victory. It is a defeat for the humanity itself.

    August 10, 2007 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  17. Kevin, Indianapolis, IN

    I don't mean to be critical of your reporting, but if 33 percent of Americans now favor the war, compared with 30 percent in June, and both polls have a margin of error of +/- 3 percent, then isn't the rating STILL at an all-time low? Both measurements fall within each others' margins of error, indicating there has been no change. To report that the Bush administration "may have convinced more people that the war in Iraq is worthwhile" is to misrepresent the statistics: there is no statistical evidence to support the notion that Bush has been able to sway any of your interviewees to support the war. Don't believe me? Ask a statistician – before you misrepresent the facts.

    August 10, 2007 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  18. Steve, Portland, OR

    America winning the war in Iraq?.Geez that has to be one of the most rediculous questions I've seen asked in a while. What are we winning? The right to go home? Like we're going to solve a thousand year old dispute in a country with way more baggage than anyone here could imagine.

    August 10, 2007 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  19. Sue, Midland, MI

    So, CNN reports an upswing in approval of the war-hmmm. they talked to 1000 people, and the numbers went from 30 per cent approval (300 folks) all the way to 33 per cent (333 folks?) Wow, that's an increase in support all right! And for the record-I do not, will not, can not support this war, nor do I think it is winnable.

    August 10, 2007 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  20. Mick, Richmond, VA

    IT'S NOT A WAR. Stop calling it a war. THE WAR WAS WON FOUR YEARS AGO. Our military is now an occupying force. An occupation can never be "WON".

    August 10, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  21. Sharon Evans North Carolina

    I think we could win the war if we start insisting that Iraq step up and take the responsibility that belongs to them. We need to start letting our soldiers do the job we sent them there for and bring them back home. A deadline needs to be set for the Iraq government to start assuming the control of there government since we are not planning on keeping our soldiers there forever. However we still need to help with the rebuilding and continue to supply aid for the people of Iraq who did not ask the United States to come to Iraq.

    Sharon Evans

    August 10, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  22. Denise Lepore Streator IL

    We can and will win in Iraq but only when the Communist News Network Starts to report Facts and not Fiction.....The GOP will be back in 09 so keep up the good work........

    August 10, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  23. Matt, PA

    I know this is what I've been saying for awhile. American doesn't have the backbone to win wars anymore. We could win in Iraq; the problem is many people wouldn't like what it'd take to do that. So instead our politicians and generals are forced to adopt these half-hearted wartime policies that ensure, if not defeat, at least a stalemate.

    August 10, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Ralph E. MacLeod Braintree, MA. 02184

    If the U.S citizen stopped using ARAB oil, how long would it be before the money being used to support the terrorist activities would dry up? Who would fund the terrorist then?

    August 10, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. Patrick, Cincinnati,OH

    Nonsense.... the "war" is won already its the occupation that is not being won. Withdraw troops to safer easily defended areas and let the Iraqis have their chance to "stand up".

    700 billion dollars gone... we could of reduced our foreign oil dependence by 50% with that much money yet we sit on our hands while billions continue to be wasted.

    August 10, 2007 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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