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August 02, 2007


Perhaps data points like "A War We Just Might Win" are contributing to the, um, 'self-delusion'.

Going back to the survey results, and your original inquiry, I think there is an issue with the survey question that was used, as it is very broad and could cover policy, strategy and/or execution.

It also asks the question retrospectively - "looking back". That adds additional levels of ambiguity.

Responses are going to vary with some inconsistently, from survey to survey, based on the respondents interpretation of the question and their own view of what we were (or are) trying to achieve.

In general it will elicit a response that is to a fairly large degree independent of actual mid-term success in Iraq (positive or negative).


The ABC/Washington Post poll has a different question.

It reads -

"All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not?"

Even though this lets the respondent define "costs" and "benefits" themselves it is more pragmatically oriented. It still touches on ideology and intangibles, but to a lesser degree than the survey question you were puzzled by.

For the 07/21/07 poll 36% percent say "worth fighting" and 63% say "not worth fighting".


In terms of improvements in Iraq, there must be some somewhere.

In polls, if a situation stops getting worse at an accelerating pace that is viewed as "getting better". I favor that too. I hope the trend continues.

Brendan, your post's ending phrase perplexed me: "voters return(ing) from vacation and confront(ing) the bad news (coming from Iraq)".

I assume you and your anonymous reader do not characterize the recent, widely reported news of the improving security situation in Iraq and the declining fortunes of al-Qaeda in Iraq as "bad news". So to what are you referring?

There is a paper about your situation you might benefit from reading:

"Why Does Being Wrong Feel So Right? How motivated reasoning can prevent the correction of misperceptions" -- by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler

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