CNN Poll: 59% say it was dumb to send troops to Iraq

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 5:30pm

Ten years after the start of the Iraq war, most Americans say the war was a mistake and that it was dumb to send U.S. troops into the conflict, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday also indicates that more than half of the public says that President George W. Bush's administration misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and more than half describe the more than eight and a half year long war as a stalemate.

As Americans mark the tenth anniversary of the conflict, 59% of those questioned in the survey say the decision to originally send U.S. troops into Iraq was dumb. That's up eight points from December 2011, when the final U.S. troops left the country. Thirty-eight percent say it was a smart decision, down seven points.

According to the poll, 56% say the war was a mistake, with 43% disagreeing.

"Most Republicans believe that the Iraq War was not a mistake, but 62 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats disagree," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Only a quarter of the public describes the war as a victory for America, down five points from December 2011, with 55% saying the conflict was a stalemate, pretty much unchanged. Eighteen percent say the war was a defeat for the U.S., up seven points from December 2011.

A majority of Americans (54%) say that prior to the start of the war the administration of George W. Bush deliberately misled the U.S. public about whether Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. That may explain why 51% say that the Iraq war was not morally justified. Forty-eight percent say the conflict was morally justified.

Public support for the war was high after the initial March 2003 invasion by U.S. forces, and remained high throughout that year, which ended with the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in December. But public backing of the war started to deteriorate in 2004, with mounting American casualties and scandals such as the one at the Abu Ghraib prison, and as the conflict became the top issue in that year's presidential election.

The new poll was conducted March 15-17 for CNN by ORC International, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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