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Poll: Most Americans Say Iraq War Was a Mistake


CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

With combat operations in Iraq coming to an end, most Americans believe the war is going well for the United States, a new CBS News survey finds. But nearly six in ten say it was a mistake to start the battle in the first place, and most say their country did not accomplish its objectives in Iraq.

Fifty-seven percent now say the war is going well for America, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents. That reflects improved perceptions since July 2007, when just 22 percent said things were going well. Thirty-eight percent say things are going badly.

Thirty-five percent predict more violence in Iraq because of the troop withdrawal, while 60 percent say the violence will lessen or stay where it is now.

Asked who should get credit for how things are going in Iraq, one in three say both the Obama and Bush administrations. Twenty-six percent credit the Bush administration, 20 percent credit the Obama administration, and 19 percent say neither deserves credit.

Fifty-two percent approve of how President Obama is handing the situation in Iraq.

Americans are split on how the Iraqi people are feeling toward the United States at this point. Forty-one percent say most are feeling grateful, while 37 percent say they are feeling resentful.

The percentage of Americans who say America did the right thing in going to war in Iraq now stands at 37 percent. Fifty-nine percent say the war was a mistake, up from 55 percent in March of last year. While most Democrats and independents say the United States should not have gone to war, 63 percent of Republicans say it was the right thing to do.

Only one in five say the war was worth the loss of life and other costs that came with it. Seventy-two percent say the war was not worth it. The opinions of households with Iraq veterans mirror the opinions of all Americans on this question.

Twenty-five percent overall say the war has made the United States safer from terrorism, a drop of 11 percentage points since March of 2008. Eighteen percent say it has made American less safe, while most - 55 percent - say it has made no difference.

Fifty-one percent say the United States did not succeed in accomplishing its objectives in Iraq. Forty-one percent say it did succeed in doing so.

Americans continue to be pessimistic about American prospects in the war in Afghanistan, though perceptions have improved since last month. Fifty-two percent say things are going badly for the United States in the war there, a drop of ten points from July. Thirty-seven percent say things are going well.

Americans are split on whether America should be involved in Afghanistan at this point. Forty-three percent say the United States should be involved there, including most Republicans; 48 percent say it should not, including most Democrats.

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This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,082 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone August 20-24, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Brian Montopoli

Brian Montopoli is the national reporter and political analyst for

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