The Washington Post

Public opinion is settled as Iraq war concludes

In the seemingly poisoned atmosphere of American politics, President Obama’s directive to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by December is a rare example of a broadly popular policy decision — fully 78 percent of all Americans support the decision in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The decision to effectively end the war next month has been a long time coming for the public, which turned decidedly against the war during George W. Bush’s second term. In the current poll, 62 percent say the war was not worth its costs, on par with polls over the past five years.

Growing dissatisfaction with the war helped Democrats wrest control of Congress from the Republicans in 2006 and provided a clear opening for Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois, to run for the White House.

With a dreadful economy weighing down Obama’s approval ratings, even the popular decision to end the war is unlikely to spark much of a resurgence. Last month’s killing of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi did nothing to boost Obama’s job approval numbers, and the public splits about evenly on his handling of international affairs, 47 percent to 45 percent.

The move to end the war, however, seems unlikely to blow back against the president. There are few dissenters to the drawdown plan, and strong majorities of Democrats and independents support the decision, as do nearly six in 10 Republicans.

A bare majority of people who “strongly support” the tea party movement oppose the decision, as do 46 percent of those who identify themselves as “very conservative.” But even among those who think the Iraq war was worth fighting, fully 60 percent support the decision to pull out all troops.

Read the full poll results

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Peyton M. Craighill is polling manager for the Washington Post. Peyton reports and conducts national and regional news polls for the Washington Post, with a focus on politics, elections and other social and economic issues.

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