Sunday, July 30, 2006
Past Public Opinion
One repeating issue is war. A new analysis of Gallup Poll data indicates that Americans' attitudes toward the Iraq War today parallel Americans' attitudes toward Vietnam in 1970. I wasn't alive in 1970, so I lack much of the relevant cultural knowledge to put this into context, but I thought it was interesting regardless:
The most recent Gallup poll this month found that 52% of adult Americans want to see all U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, with 19% advocating immediate withdrawal. In the summer of 1970, Gallup found that 48% wanted a pullout within a year, with 23% embracing the "immediate" option. Just 7% want to send more troops now, vs. 10% then.
At present, 56% call the decision to invade Iraq a "mistake," with 41% disagreeing. Again this echoes the view of the Vietnam war in 1970, when that exact same number, 56%, in May 1970 called it a mistake in a Gallup poll.
While the U.S. involvement in the Korean war is often labeled unpopular, the highest number calling it a mistake in a Gallup poll was 51% in early 1952. That number actually declined to 43% by the end of that year.
And, in case it is not obvious, support for the Iraq War pales in comparison to support for WWII (data from private polls conducted for FDR, not from Gallup):
(h/t Glenn Greenwald via C&L)
Approval for President Roosevelt's conduct of the war continued at around 70% where it had been for years. The number of people who said they had a clear idea of what the war was about was at about the same level and appears to have been rising. Support for a negotiated peace with Hitler remained around the anemic levels it had been for years -- at around 15%.
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