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Little Concern About Lack of WMD in Iraq

by David W. Moore

Public rejects charges of deliberate deception by Bush administration

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans appear relatively unconcerned that nearly eight weeks after Saddam Hussein was deposed from power, coalition forces in Iraq have not been able to produce indisputable evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Some political leaders who originally backed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq have now raised questions about whether the war was justified, given that U.K. and U.S. officials cited Iraq's possession of WMD as a prime rationale for the invasion. And some critics have even charged the Bush administration with deliberate deception. But a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds that a majority of Americans are generally sanguine about this issue.

  • By 67% to 31%, Americans say the Bush administration did not deliberately mislead the American public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
  • Overall, 62% of Americans now believe the information was inaccurate, but half of that group (31%) says the Bush administration thought the information was correct. The other half believes the Bush administration knew it was incorrect. Another 31% believe the original information provided by the Bush administration was correct.

 

Bush administration on WMD in Iraq

2003 May 30-Jun 1

%

Yes, deliberately misled the American public

31

(Greatly overstated threat)

(21)

(Generally accurate but exaggerated)

(10)

(Unsure)

(*)

No, did not deliberately mislead the American public

67

(Information was accurate)

(31)

(Thought information was accurate, but it was inaccurate)

(31)

(Unsure)

(5)

No opinion

2



Evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction Not Necessary

The American public has also changed its mind about whether WMD are the primary justification for the war in Iraq. Just as the war began, a plurality of Americans, 41%, said the war would not be justified unless the United States found conclusive evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, while 38% said the war would be justified even without that evidence. Another 15% said the war was not justified regardless.

Two weeks into the war, as WMD were not used by Iraq and were not found by coalition forces, Americans changed their minds. In an April 5-6 poll, 58% said the war would be justified even without evidence that Iraq possessed WMD, a 20-point increase. In the current poll, despite continuing controversy over the failure to find the weapons, 56% of Americans continue to take that position. Only about a quarter of Americans are suspending judgment on the war pending the outcome of the search for weapons of mass destruction.

How is War Justified ?

Positive View About What is Happening in Iraq

Although news stories suggest a great deal of chaos in Iraq, as well as demonstrations by Iraqis against the U.S.-U.K. occupation, Americans appear fairly content with how things are going in post-war Iraq. Overall, 70% say things are going either "very" or "moderately" well for the United States in Iraq, while just 29% say either "moderately" or "very" badly.

How would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq now that the major fighting has ended – [ROTATED: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, (or) very badly]?

 

Very

well

Moderately well

Moderately badly

Very

badly

No
opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

11%

59

22

7

1

2003 May 5-7 ^

30%

56

10

3

1

2003 Apr 22-23 ^

21%

64

12

2

1

^

Asked of a half sample.



At the beginning of May, Americans were more positive than they are now -- 86% said things were going well, compared with the current percentage of 70%, suggesting the news stories have had some modest effect. The percent saying things are going very well is down to 11%, from 30% less than a month ago.

Consistent with their rosy view of the events in Iraq, a majority of Americans, 56%, say that the Bush administration has a clear plan for improving conditions in Iraq, while 41% disagree. This positive assessment comes in spite of criticism levied by some against the administration that, although it had a good plan for military action in Iraq, it did not have a well-thought out plan for dealing with the situation in Iraq after the military battles were won.

Do you think the Bush administration does – or does not -- have a clear plan for improving conditions in Iraq and helping the Iraqi civilians rebuild their country?
May 30-June 1, 2003

Similarly, a majority of Americans say the war with Iraq will end up solving more problems than it creates, by a 53% to 42% margin.

In the long run, do you think the U.S. war with Iraq will end up creating more problems than it solves, or will end up solving more problems than it creates?
May 30-June 1, 2003

Partisan Differences

The war with Iraq continues to be a highly divisive partisan issue. On all the questions, there are significant differences between Democrats and Republicans, with independents in the middle.

Attitudes About Iraq

Compared by Party Affiliation

 

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

%

%

%

Things are going very or moderately well in Iraq

89

67

59

Bush has a clear plan for Iraq

82

53

34

War is justified even without evidence of WMD

80

52

36

War with Iraq will create more problems than it solves

23

42

59

Bush administration deliberately misled public

9

31

51



As shown in the foregoing table, the gap between Republicans and Democrats ranges from 30 to 48 percentage points, suggesting the war could be an important campaign issue in the 2004 presidential election.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,019 national adults, aged 18+, conducted May 30-June 1, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the 514 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 505 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points.

Now, we'd like to ask you some questions about Iraq. First,

How would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq now that the major fighting has ended – [ROTATED: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, (or) very badly]?

 

Very

well

Moderately well

Moderately badly

Very

badly

No
opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

11%

59

22

7

1

2003 May 5-7 ^

30%

56

10

3

1

2003 Apr 22-23 ^

21%

64

12

2

1

^

Asked of a half sample.



Do you think the Bush administration does – or does not -- have a clear plan for improving conditions in Iraq and helping the Iraqi civilians rebuild their country?

 

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

56%

41

3



In the long run, do you think the U.S. war with Iraq will – [ROTATED: end up creating more problems than it solves (or will) end up solving more problems than it creates]?

 

Creating more problems

Solving more problems

No
opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

42%

53

5



Which comes closest to your view about the war with Iraq – [RANDOM ORDER: it was justified only if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, it was justified even if the U.S. DOES NOT find conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, (or) it was not justified even if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction]?

 

 

Justified only if finds evidence

Justified even if does not find evidence

 

 

Not justified


No
opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

23%

56

18

3

2003 Apr 5-6 ^

24%

58

15

3

2003 Mar 23 ^ †

41%

38

15

6

^ WORDING: Which comes closest to your view about the war with Iraq – [RANDOM ORDER: it is justified only if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, it is justified even if the U.S. DOES NOT find conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, (or) it is not justified even if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction]?

†Margin of error: ± 5 PCT PTS; Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.



Do you think the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or not?

 

Yes,
deliberately misled


No, did not

No
opinion

2003 May 30-Jun 1

31%

67

2



Do you think the Bush administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or not?

Do you think the Bush administration – [ROTATED: was generally accurate in describing the threat Iraq posed to the U.S., but exaggerated some of the specific details (or do you think the Bush administration) greatly overstated the threat Iraq posed to the U.S. in order to justify a war with Iraq]?

Do you think the Bush administration – [ROTATED: provided information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was accurate, (or) provided information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction it thought was accurate but turned out to be inaccurate]?

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.17-19)

 

2003 May 30-Jun 1

%

Yes, deliberately misled the American public

31

(Greatly overstated threat)

(21)

(Generally accurate but exaggerated)

(10)

(Unsure)

(*)

No, did not deliberately misled the American public

67

(Information was accurate)

(31)

(Thought information was accurate, but it was inaccurate)

(31)

(Unsure)

(5)

No opinion

2



* -- Less than 0.5%

Gallup


Gallup http://news.gallup.com/poll/8566/Little-Concern-About-Lack-WMD-Iraq.aspx
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