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March 10, 2006

Kane on the Zogby Iraq Troop Poll

RealClearPolitics has posted a highly critical op-ed piece by Tim Kane of the Heritage Foundation on the recent Zogby poll of US troops in Iraq.  While MP's posts on this survey (here, here and here) focused mostly on sampling issues, Kane makes an important point about the question that produced Zogby's headline ("72% Say End War in 2006):

[T]he widespread finding that three in four soldiers think the United States should withdraw from Iraq within a year has only one option for troops who think otherwise: stay indefinitely. This infamous question asks, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?" But the first three answers are not phrased in terms of staying, they are phrased "withdraw...," "withdraw..." and "withdraw... ." Where are the options for troops who think the United States should stay for "one to two years" or "two to five years"? Zogby omits such nuance. It's stay or go. Now or never.

Here (via RadioBlogger) is the full text of that question:

15. How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?

1. They should withdraw immediately (29%)
2. They should withdraw within the next six months (22%)
3. They should withdraw within six to twelve months (21%)
4. They should stay as long as they are needed (23%)
5. Not sure (5%)

MP agrees with Kane of this one.  Compare that question to others I reviewed back in December on prospective policy in Iraq that were asked of ordinary Americans.  The results varied widely depending on the text and the number of options offered:

Support for leaving sooner varies anywhere from 35% to 63% on the questions listed above.  Support for staying the course (in one form or another) varies from 36% to 59%.  Ask a question with three or more options (as RT Strategies and Gallup did above) and, not surprisingly, at least a third of Americans opts for the middle category.

When respondent opinion is less than certain, the number of categories and the date ranges offered can have great impact on the answers.  Aside from the issue of "withdraw" versus "stay" that Kane raises, a different set of dates ("withdraw within the next two years, withdraw within the next four years, or stay...") may well have obtained a very different result.

Related Entries - Iraq

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on March 10, 2006 at 03:58 PM in Iraq | Permalink


What about having an entirely open-ended question (How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?), just to get an idea of the sort of timeframe that people are actually talking about?

Posted by: Pb | Mar 11, 2006 1:52:08 AM

I think you're being way to nice to Zogby. If anyone has followed them, they have a horrible track record.

When I need results, they would be the last company I would hire. I want to know the real facts, not simply what I want to hear.

Their results many times have been so far off of what other polls have said as to render them irrelevant and a joke to integrity.

Posted by: Gary Bourgeault | Mar 12, 2006 6:00:06 PM

Mark, is it possible for you to obtain the text of the other questions in the survey? Specifically, I'm thinking of the one about the reasons for the invasion.

It's clear to me that a similar 'excluded middle' exercise was going on there; nothing else explains why supposedly 75-85% of service members attribute it to "revenge for Iraq's part in the Sept 11 attacks" or however it was phrased.

All kinds of people, including many who should know better, are citing that poll answer as an indication that the troops are even more brainwashed than the U.S. public (about 40% still believe the Big Lie of an Iraqi connection to the September 11 attacks).

If you can let your readers know how that multiple-choice question was phrased, I think it would be a great service.

Posted by: Nell Lancaster | Mar 13, 2006 11:44:38 AM

Oops! Missed your earlier post where you linked to the full text of the survey. Thank you.

The phrasing of the reasons for the invasion questions is not as leading as I'd thought, since the reasons don't compete against each other in one multiple choice as I'd feared, and respondents could give whatever weight they chose to each reason.

So the result is: I'm severely shocked and depressed about the troops' understanding of this war. The Big Lie is clearly much bigger in the military than outside.

Posted by: Nell | Mar 13, 2006 11:53:42 AM

I served in Iraq in 2005, with the Army (National Guard).

Not only do the majority of the troops support Bush, disapproval of the GOP is not tolerated.

I was chewed out by an officer for making comments critical of Republicans to one of my buddies. I was told it was inappropriate. Of course, when Dems get criticized... let's just say my 1st Sergeant was never told he had to take his "Not Fonda Kerry" bumper sticker off of his pickup truck.

Then there were all the Bush/Cheney 2004 decals proudly displayed in the Mayor's Cell, which was a kind of Base HQ we ran at our base in Iraq.

One of my buddies had his Al Franken book thrown in the trash by a higher ranking NCO who said something about Franken being a traitor.

The troops are fed a steady diet of pro-GOP propaganda. Most of them eat it up. If you're a Democrat, don't be surprised if someone tells you to shut up. The climate is almost gestapo these days.

I wonder if it was always like this. If not, how did it come to this? Is this the way it should be?

Posted by: John | Mar 17, 2006 12:56:02 AM

My own experience mirrors John (directly above) to a tee.

I am also not suprised in the least that 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks."

One does not need to ask that in a leading way, it is what the grunts were FED by the officers.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 22, 2006 9:19:09 PM

Proponents of the "Big Lie" myth (like "Nell")seem like whining babies desparate to get their own way in spite of reality. With only 34 million pages of 120 million documents captured after the liberation of Iraq translated thus far, the evidence shows that Saddam 1.was rebuilding his nuclear and WMD programs after the inspectors left, 2. had developed plans to strike the U.S. and use the Iraqi air force for suicide missions to that end, 3. had approved a Fatwa calling for Jihad against the United States by all muslims in the world, 4.had created a terrorist training camp at Salman Pac, and 5. was providing support of various forms for nine different terrorist organizations. THe Baathist regime's contacts and collaboration with terrorists in general, and Al Qaeda in particular (including those complicit with the 1993 WTC bombing and Sept.11 attacks), should make all Americans and freedom loving people grateful that President Bush led an international coalition to remove the Baathist regime. The increasing public evidence of Iraq's cooperation with and support for global terrorists is abundant and clear. Thus, the Big Lie turns into the Big Denial by "Nell" and his ilk.

Posted by: Greg | Nov 28, 2006 10:11:21 PM

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