CBS News examines its handiwork

This CBS News poll covers a wide range of issues related to the war in Iraq. As a threshold matter, the poll puts President Bush’s approval rating at 34 percent. This is the lowest rating I have seen (tied with the result of the last CBS poll), and once against CBS gave Democrats more weight than it gave Republicans (it actually interviewed a few more Republicans, but it gave their responses less weight in order, CBS would say, to create better overall demographic balance). Bush’s approval rating in the CBS poll is 4 percentage points lower than the Real Clear Politics average. To the extent that CBS over-sampled Democrats and/or people who don’t like President Bush, its other results may be slightly skewed against his Iraq policy.
In any case, here are some of the results that caught my eye:
51 percent of those polled think the U.S. will succeed in Iraq. 47 percent think we won’t.
71 percent think there’s a civil war going on in Iraq (I wonder where they got that idea).
40 percent think things are going well for the U.S. in Iraq; 57 percent think they are going badly. Last month the split was 36-62.
29 percent think the U.S. is winning the war. 12 percent think the “Iraqi resistance” (CBS’s term) is winning. 53 percent think neither side is.
42 percent think we’re making progress in training Iraqi troops. 24 percent think we aren’t. 35 percent say they don’t know, but I suspect the real number is much higher.
30 percent think our troop levels in Iraq should be decreased. 29 percent think all of our troops should be removed. These numbers have changed little since September of last year.
41 percent think we did the right thing going to war in Iraq. 54 percent think we should have stayed out.
Yet in response to a slightly different question, 57 percent say we were right to remove Saddam Hussein, while only 40 percent think we shouldn’t have gotten involved. However, about 40 percent of those who think we were right to remove Saddam also believe that we should then have left Iraq.
25 percent think the war has been worth the cost. 70 percent think it hasn’t been.
30 percent think the action in Iraq has made the U.S. safer from terrorism. 23 percent think it has made us less safe. 44 percent don’t think it has made a difference.
31 percent think that the media describes things in Iraq in a way that makes them sound worse than they are. 24 percent thinks it makes them sound better than they are. 35 percent thinks the media describes things in Iraq accurately.

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