Here are the raw data on the Washington Post/ABC poll following Secretary of State Powell’s U.N. presentation. They are generally very favorable.
By a 61% to 32% margin, Americans approve of the President’s handling of the Iraq situation. Interestingly, this is a small change from the prior poll; even before Powell’s speech, Americans approved by a 61%-35% margin. I have to think the poll’s margin of error comes into play here.
By a 67% to 27% margin, Americans favor “having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to force Saddam Hussein from power.” Moreover, by far the largest group is the 45% that strongly favor military action.
Even in the face of U.N. “opposition,” a plurality supports military action. But what is significant here is that there is no prospect at all of U.N. opposition. At worst, a majority of the Security Council will support military action.
As to Secretary Powell’s speech, 50% thought Powell made a “convincing case for going to war with Iraq,” while only 19% disagreed. (The remainder are those who claimed to have seen the speech, but weren’t willing to express an opinion about it.)
The most interesting thing about these numbers, I think, is how greatly they exceed the support for military action in prior situations, including the Gulf War in 1991. There is a consistent and healthy reluctance to go to war among citizens of democratic republics, which has repeatedly been reflected in American polling data. The current majority favoring war is really unprecedented, and is no doubt the effect of September 11. The bottom line is that Americans have not forgotten why we are at war, and the Administration–make that George W. Bush–continues to enjoy the support and confidence of a broad majority of the American people.
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