Coalition governments too optimistic on Iraq war victory, polls find

31 March 2003
Widespread reports that the US-led coalition had presented the public with an over-optimistic picture of the ease of victory in Iraq appeared confirmed by opinion polls on both sides of the Atlantic on 30 March. In the UK, a survey carried out by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph newspaper found that support for war had fallen for the first time since hostilities began, decreasing to 54 per cent from 59 per cent four days earlier. On the progress of the war, 30 per cent believed that operations were going 'fairly badly,' compared with 10 per cent giving the same response on 27 March. Expectations of a quick war had fallen considerably: 56 per cent of respondents thought that several months would be required to defeat the Iraqi army as opposed to 37 per cent in the earlier poll.

In the US, a Time/CNN survey found that 55 per cent of Americans believed that their government had been too optimistic about the ease of victory over Saddam Hussein's regime. On the length of the conflict, only 13 per cent expected it to be over in two-four weeks: 32 per cent thought one-three months was most likely and 46 per cent forecast a war of more than four months. Support fell according to both US and Iraqi casualty numbers. In the event of more than 5,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, 47 per cent would oppose war and only 40 per cent would be in favour. Only 50 per cent would support war and 39 per cent would be opposed if Iraqi civilian casualties climb above 1,000.

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