The latest Gallup polls finds that while opinion on the progress of the war has gone down, support for the war in general and President Bush has remained solid for the last 40 days.
Sixty-three percent say the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over. That’s exactly the same as the readings from two July Gallup Polls that asked this question, and higher than the late June reading of 56%.
The polls on the war are remaining steady despite a stream of media negativity on the war. The American people seem to have a far more realistic outlook on the war than the media. They did not expect Iraq to be made democratic in a matter of weeks or months, but realize that we’ll be in Iraq for some time until things are stabilized. Expect these numbers to remain steady, even if the casualty levels continue to rise as they have. Despite the belief of groups like al-Qaeda, the American people are far less averse to causualties than the American media makes us out to be.
Some interpretations of recent polls have focused on what are perceived to be downturns in Bush’s public opinion ratings and support for the Iraqi situation. A Newsweek article this past weekend, for example, said: "Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the U.S. mission in Iraq" and "Against this backdrop, President George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to decline."
But the just-finished CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll does not support the hypothesis that the recent events in Iraq have had a significantly negative impact on how the public views Bush’s overall job performance as president…
In fact, the President’s approval ratings have been relatively steady over the past few months. A 59% approval rating is hardly stellar, but it’s not a sign of danger either. August is always the weakest month for the President, mainly because the President is largely out of the public eye during this month. (Which actually makes some sense, August is never a big month for news, and if a President were to take a vacation, that would be the time to do it.)
What’s telling is that the President’s approval ratings have not dipped down below the high fifties since his inauguration. Despite corporate scandals, Iraq, the questions about the State of the Union, and constant Democratic sniping, President Bush has a consistant and strong base of support.
Critics of the Bush Administration will say that an increasing bodycount in Iraq will turn the American people against him, but there’s no sign of that happening yet. It’s not as though the media has been kind to the President in the post-war period either. Yet the polls have remained consistant.
The fact is that the American people aren’t a bunch of shrinking violets that will run at the first sign of trouble. The American peope know what has to be done in Iraq, and they’re willing to see it through even at great cost. The enemies of America and the critics of America both share the outlook that we’ll turn against our leaders at the first sign of trouble: both of them are dead wrong.