More Americans favor war
It seems I was right after all when I predicted that President Xanex’s news conference last week would shift public opinion. At the time, I foresaw a shift of between 5 and 7 percentage points in favor of war. Well, according to a New York Times/CBS poll conducted March 7 to 9, 44 percent of respondents said the United States should act against Iraq “soon” compared to 36 percent two weeks ago — right in line with my 5-7 percentage points, given the poll’s margin of error. On the brighter side, however, a majority — 52 percent — of respondents want to continue to give weapons inspectors more time. On the other hand, that number is down from 62 percent two weeks ago, indicating an erosion of confidence in the inspection regime.
As far as Bush making the case for attacking Iraq, the numbers haven’t budged since the last poll conducted March 4-5, with 52 percent saying the president has presented enough evidence and 43 percent saying he hasn’t. Previous results were 53 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
Encouragingly, 60 percent of respondents want the United States to take the views of its allies — both of them — into account, compared to 36 percent who want the United States to act unilaterally. When it comes to the Security Council and possible vetoes from France, Russia or China, however, the numbers are much closer, with 44 percent saying America should act anyway and 49 percent saying America should take the veto(es) into account, results that fall within the margin of error. Confusingly, though, a solid 55 percent approved of the U.S. taking action even if the Security Council nixes the latest resolution setting a March 17 deadline for Iraq to produce evidence of disarmament. Forty-one percent would disapprove of military action, indicating that a majority of Americans are confused on what the word “veto” means.
Over all, 66 percent to 30 percent favor using military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Interestingly, 51 percent of respondents think Bush is more interested in removing Saddam from power than in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (26 percent.) At the same time, 40 percent of respondents were _personally_ interested in rooting out WMD and 34 percent were personally interested in removing Saddam.
The respondents indicate the public is split on Bush’s motivations, with 48 percent saying this war is driven by a personal desire to finish his father’s business and 46 percent saying personal desires are not involved. Perhaps most tellingly, however, is that 62 percent of respondents don’t think the administration is telling the public what it needs to know about its reasons for attacking Iraq, and 33 percent think the administration is the model of loquaciousness.
And finally, almost half — *45 percent* — believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
The poll was conducted via telephone among 1,010 adults with a 95 percent confidence and a 3 point margin of error.