CBS Poll: Was Iraq War Worth It?

GENERIC Iraq, President Bush, map of Iraq, and U.S. Troops CBS/AP

A majority of Americans, 55%, continues to believe that removing Saddam Hussein was a worthwhile effort, despite its costs. This has not changed in the past month, though it remains down from the 65% of Americans who thought so in May.

But when asked to evaluate the overall results of the war so far, Americans are split, with nearly half saying those results have not been worth the costs.

WORTH THE COSTS?

Removing Saddam

Yes, worth it
55%
No, not worth it
34%

Results of war

Yes, worth it
46%
No, not worth it
45%

Although U.S. and coalition forces continue their efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq, Americans are increasingly unlikely to say those efforts are going well. While 53% say the U.S. efforts are going well today, that is down from 60% who thought so last month, and down even more from the 72% who thought things were going well in May.

Partisans hold different assessments on the state of affairs in Iraq: nearly three-quarters of Republicans say things are going well (though only 10% of them say things are going "very well") while 57% of Democrats believe things are going badly.

And Americans continue to divide when asked if the U.S. is in control of the situation in Iraq.

IS U.S. IN CONTROL OF THE SITUATION IN IRAQ?

Now

Yes
45%
No
43%

7/03

Yes
45%
No
41%

4/03

Yes
71%
No
20%

THE HUNT FOR WEAPONS AND SADDAM

Americans' confidence that the U.S. will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has dropped over the last few months. Today, 52% of Americans remain confident the U.S. will ultimately find weapons, but 44% are not confident. Last month, 55% were confident, and in June, two-thirds of Americans thought it was only a matter of time before the weapons turned up.

However, it does not seem to be important to many Americans anymore: less than half say that it matters whether or not the U.S. can find weapons, a sentiment that has not changed since last month.

There are partisan divisions on this question: 60% of Republicans say it does not matter, while 54% of Democrats say that it does.

Americans are more positive about the prospects of corralling Saddam: 69% say they are confident the U.S. will be able to kill or capture him. With the recent U.S. success in finding Saddam's sons and speculation that the capture may be close at hand, confidence has risen since May.

WILL THE U.S. BE ABLE TO CAPTURE OR KILL SADDAM?

Now

Confident
69%
Not confident
30%

5/03

Confident
60%
Not confident
37%

Republicans are overwhelmingly confident the U.S. will find Saddam, with 85% believing so, and most Democrats agree, with 57% expressing confidence.

Unlike the weapons search, the search for Saddam still matters to most Americans: 72% say it matters whether or not the U.S. can apprehend or kill the former Iraqi dictator.

Meanwhile, following the controversy over classified sections of the 9/11 report and the questions raised about possible Saudi Arabian connections to terror groups, Americans are less inclined to see Saudi Arabia as a U.S. ally or as a friendly nation than they were in May. Now, less than half – 45% - say Saudi Arabia is a friend or ally; in May 54% said it was.

THE PRESIDENT, IRAQ AND FOREIGN POLICY

A majority of Americans – 57% - continues to approve of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, but the President's ratings on handling Iraq are the lowest he has received since the conflict began.

BUSH'S HANDLING OF IRAQ

Now

Approve
57%
Disapprove
33%

7/03

Approve
58%
Disapprove
32%

5/03

Approve
72%
Disapprove
20%

On other foreign policy matters, the President does less well: under half of Americans approve of his handling of other foreign policy issues, a figure down slightly from last month.

Overall, the President's job approval rating has dropped to 55%, down from 60% last month.

BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL

Now

Approve
55%
Disapprove
35%

7/8-9/2003

Approve
60%
Disapprove
32%


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 798 adults interviewed by telephone August 11-12, 2003. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.
  • Joel Roberts

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.