Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Poll Reveals Americans Supported Iraq War in 2003 Far More Than They Admit Today


Americans have a bit of collective amnesia when it comes to remembering their stance on the Iraq War when it first began in 2003. The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that 51 percent of Americans report they were opposed to the Iraq War back when it started in 2003; 39 percent say they supported the war, 6 percent report not having had an opinion, and 5 percent can't remember.

However, a Pew Research Center poll conducted in March 2003, as the Iraq War began, found fully 72 percent of Americans supported the war, 23 percent were opposed, and 5 percent didn't have an opinion.

Among the 39 percent of Americans who remember supporting the Iraq War in 2003, 61 percent are in favor of returning ground troops to Iraq to combat ISIS. Among those who say they opposed the 2003 Iraq war, 66 percent oppose sending ground troops to Iraq.

Only 26 percent of Democrats say they recall supporting the 2003 Iraq War when it began and 65 percent say they had been opposed. However, 59 percent of Republicans report having supported the war while 33 percent say they had been opposed to it.  A plurality (41%) of independents say they had opposed the war, 36 percent say they had supported it, and 23 percent either couldn't remember or didn't have an opinion.

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1004 adults on cell phones (503) and landlines (501) October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results can be found here including poll toplines (pdf)  and crosstabs (xls). 

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  1. Paging Mr Kerry. Mr John Kerry to the white courtesy phone.

    1. Nah he was against it before he was for it and then he was against it again. How many times does he have to go over the timeline for you to get it sarcasmic? jeez, it’s like you think he was wrong but refuses to admit it because he was worried about political fall out from his base.

  2. I supported it in 2003. Of course I was 13 so I think I can be forgiven.

    1. No, you can’t, because you have sought forgiveness for thoughtcrime, you cannot be redeemed.

  3. Were the same people polled?

  4. I was mixed on Iraq back then. I was all-in on a punitive raid into Afghanistan.

    In my defense, I had no idea that we were going to stay in either place and try to build western nations. We made total cluster-fucks out of both.

  5. Hindsight is not wisdom.

  6. Eh. People supported it at the time because they believed Iraq had a massive WMD program and were led to believe that program was an imminent threat to the USA. When there were no WMD found, and the cost was higher in lives than they thought it would be, support plummeted. You could have had twice the casualties that we actually did, but if WMD were found, the number now claiming to have supported the war at the beginning would be 100%.

      1. If that’s the chemical weapons story, you’d think the government would have shouted these findings from the rooftops – “look, he had WMDs just like we predicted, only they were older than we thought!”

  7. The reason people don’t remember supported the war is because they supported it for different reasons than they remember.

    Exhibit A: the greatest poll in the history of mankind…

    Posted 9/6/2003 8:10 AM

    Poll: 70% believe Saddam, 9-11 link

    WASHINGTON (AP) ? Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.

    Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.”…..iraq_x.htm

    Note the date of the poll–it was taken six months after we invaded Iraq.

    Explanation: 1) the anthrax attack 2) Powell showed us photos of mobile WMD labs to justify the Iraq War 3) Both Bush and Powell publicly used Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to Al Qaeda to justify the Iraq War.

    People surmised that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, and that’s why they originally supported the invasion of Iraq.

    As more and more people came to understand that Saddam Hussein was not responsible for 9/11–or the anthrax attack–their support for the Iraq War continued to fade. At first they thought it was a war of self-defense!

    1. It’s like any bait and switch: I don’t remember signing on for this!

  8. I was against it on the general principle that we had no business there, their evidence for Saddam’s WMD was bullshit, and it was obvious that Saddam and Al Qaeda were not BFF.

    But I also remember some snooty Brit newspaper railing about Americans always too eager to jump into war, and that got my goat. Wrote them a nasty email about how they were pissed as hell that we waited three years to save their ass in 1917 and waited two years to save their ass in 1941, both of which were far more started by their actions than ours, so stuff it.

  9. As I recall, the WMD rationale was not simply “Iraq has WMDs”, it was that Iraq had been issued ultimatums on allowing UN inspectors to verify they did not have WMDs (the idea that Bush knew Iraq did not have WMDs is pure nonsense; Bush knew damn well Iraq did have WMDs because it was his dad who gave Iraq the WMDs) and the final ultimatum was not issued by the UN as a whole but by the Security Council. That “or else” had a 30 day deadline that Iraq only complied with after the 30 days had passed, the rest of the Security Council said “meh, close enough” but Bush said “hell no, we said they had 30 days, they didn’t comply, so we’re going to smack that ass so we don’t look like wusses not backing up our threats”.

    All the 9/11 and WMD crap that came after that was piling on arguments, but the initial reason (as I recall) was simply “Iraq didn’t do what we told them to do when we told them to do it, so now we’re going to do what we told them we would do.”

    Now, I don’t see where the UN or the US gets off telling other countries what weapons they can or can’t have, but if they say they have the right to say it they had better be prepared to back up the argument. The UN is used to issuing stern warnings threatening to issue further stern warnings and having them ignored because who gives a shit about a stern warning, but this particular stern resolution had Bush’s name on it and Bush kept his word.

    1. excellent summary

    2. The revisionist history regarding going into the war reminds me of the common trope that Clinton was impeached over a bj – it wasn’t the sex, it was the lying under oath about it when it was being used to establish a pattern of sexual misconduct in a lawsuit against him. That part seems to be forgotten, as if anybody would lie about cheating on their wife and therefore it’s okay. It may be okay to lie in most cases, but not when you are testifying under oath in a lawsuit over the fact that you cheat on your wife.

      Same with the WMDs, it’s not whether or not Iraq had WMDs it’s that they were given an ultimatum about allowing in UN inspectors and they didn’t comply. The fact that Iraq did not have WMDs is kind of beside the point. Kind of like a warrantless search of your house that turns up drugs, whether or not you have drugs isn’t the issue it’s whether or not the cops had a warrant.

    3. That “or else” had a 30 day deadline that Iraq only complied with after the 30 days had passed,

      I seem to recall that, during the delay, fleets of trucks were photographed emptying out suspect facilities, buildings were bulldozed, etc.

      And, yeah, I supported the war. I rather foolishly thought we were going to fight it like a war – you know kill our enemies, pursue them unto death, that kind of shit.

      I also seriously underestimated Bush’s appetite for nation-building, and the insurmountable impossibility of turning Mideast crapholes into functioning nations.

      My bad. Lesson learned.

  10. No different than the massive number of Baby Boomers who admitted to smoking dope in the 70s, but then the percentages dropped by half in the 90s. Either all the dope smokers and war supporters died in the meantime, or people lie.

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