Thursday, December 15, 2005

# Posted 10:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE POLLS YOU DON'T LIKE!" warns OxBlog reader Ckrisz. The most important of those is the one conducted by the UK Ministry of Defence, a summary of which appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

Its most important findings were that 82% of Iraqis strongly opposed the occupation while 45% believed that attacks against coalition forces are acceptable. You may recognize those numbers as the ones that John Murtha cites in every one of his interviews in order to justify his statement that "We are the enemy."

It's hard to know what to make of the MoD poll since all we know about it are the details published in the Telegraph and because it is radically inconsistent with the findings of repeated polls conducted by both the BBC/Time consortium and the International Republican Institute. (For a listing of polls, click here.)

However, regardless of what you think of the occupation, you should know the details of the MoD poll if you want to talk about Iraqi public opinion, since it represents a critical (albeit lonely) data point for some of those who see the war as a quagmire.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

Not sure why you believe the MoD poll is so exceptional. The IRI polls don't ask about opinions regarding coalition presence but instead focus on generalized right way/wrong way opinions and elections.

All the recent polls I've seen in the Iraq Index which did ask indicate a strong 70%+ opposition to coalition presence and generally negative views of the coalition overall (very low levels of confidence in the coalition, its ability/competence, etc.). Only the MoD poll asked specifically if Iraqis support attacks on coalition troops.

Don't know why this Gallup poll wasn't included in the Iraq Index:


You have to be careful about how much you read into a poll regardless of whether or not you like its results. Is it a surprise that 70% of Iraqis don't like the coalition presence? I'm surprised it's not higher. But that doesn't mean that 70% want them removed or aren't glad they tossed out Hussein.

I don't like going through airport security. Does that mean I don't want any airport security? Of course not.

This poll means (and who is it a surprise to, really?) that Iraqis are eager to have their country back; but on its own, it means no more than that.
It's a bit beyond "disliking" the coalition presence. It's "oppose" the coalition presence. You may not like airport security, but you don't oppose it or support ending it in a month or so.

Moreover, it's not a simple dislike of the coalition --- Iraqis lack confidence in the coalition's effectiveness and do not give it credit for anything, not even the marginal security they do have. They credit Iraqi forces alone for this.

Over half of Iraqis now say that the invasion should not have happened at all.

Roughly 40-50% of Iraqis in both the MoD poll and the Gallup poll say that attacks on coalition troops are justified.

My point is that the majority of Iraqis (a large majority if you exclude the Kurds, who approve of the coalition by 90%+ margins) are opposed to the coalition's presence, and this has been the case for awhile now. Adesnik is incorrect when he says that the MoD poll is anomalous --- polls that actually ask Iraqis if they oppose the coalition's presence or if they support or justify attacks on coalition troops find a large base of support and have for quite awhile.

For those who are mystified as to the continued strength of the insurgency, the answer is right in those polls.
The MOD doesn't know how to design a research survey.

It was conducted in a country that has exactly zero market research companies.

The exact details of the methodology, sample, procedure, questionnaire used, interviewers used, % checked up afterwards - has never been made available.

Whole thing was just made up by a few university kids, as far as I can tell. Hope the MOD spent less than a fiver on it, that's all it's worth.
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