Public opinion on the war with Iraq

War with Iraq still seems to be scheduled for about this time next month. Various attempts to dissect the public mind with survey questions suggest that the average voter (quite sensibly) doesn’t really know what to think. The latest Gallup Poll seems to have asked the question in a new format:

“As you may know, the Bush Administration says it has evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or programs to develop them. On January 27th, United Nations weapons inspectors will report their findings so far to the UN. If the inspectors have not found any evidence, what should the United States do: invade Iraq with ground troops based on the evidence the Bush Administration says it has, invade Iraq with ground troops only after the UN inspectors find evidence of weapons, or not invade Iraq with ground troops regardless of what the UN inspectors find?”

Invade based on Bush Administration evidence 23 %

Invade only after UN inspectors find evidence of weapons 52 %

Not invade regardless of what UN inspectors find 19 %

No opinion 6 %

[Results posted on Polling Report.]

Since no one really expects the inspectors to find a smoking gun, Bush will be going into Iraq with a somewhat queasy public behind him. That won’t matter if victory is quick and easy and the post-invasion clean-up is cheap and effective. But the first half of that “if” statement is only plausible, and the second half something less than that.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: