PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans widely support President Obama's recent decision to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, with 75% approving. That includes the vast majority of Democrats and independents. Republicans, however, are slightly more likely to disapprove than approve.
These results are based on an Oct. 29-30 Gallup poll. On Oct. 21, Obama announced that U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Only a small U.S. force would remain to guard the U.S. embassy, among other responsibilities. The U.S. ended combat operations in Iraq in August 2010.
These findings are consistent with Americans' long-standing desire to leave Iraq. Last August, as the drawdown in U.S. forces was underway, 6 in 10 Americans were opposed to renewing combat operations in Iraq even if Iraqi forces were unable to maintain security in that country.
Republicans at that time also expressed some willingness to remain in Iraq, depending on the stability of the situation there, while Democrats and independents were largely opposed to a change in the policy.
Prior to the end of combat operations, Republicans generally opposed, while Democrats largely favored, setting a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Thus, Republicans' disapproval of Obama's withdrawal policy may partly be influenced by their more general opposition to setting hard deadlines for withdrawing troops, rather than an actual desire to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. Their opposition to his policy may also be related to their broader disapproval of Obama -- 9% of Republicans have approved of the job Obama is doing in each of the last three months.
President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year generally fits with Americans' wishes, if not those of many Republicans. Americans have been opposed to the Iraq war for many years. Since 2005, on average, a majority have said the U.S. made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq.
The Iraq war had been one of the top issues in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, and Americans named it as the most important problem facing the country each month for nearly four years, from April 2004 to January 2008. Now, 1% of Americans name it as the most important problem. U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will thus end the debate on what has been one of the dominant policy issues in U.S. politics for the past eight years.
Results for Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 29-30, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 992 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents for two nights on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.