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Thread: America Says Let's Win War

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default America Says Let's Win War

    21 February NY Post - America Says Let's Win War by Andy Soltis.

    In a dramatic finding, a new poll shows a solid majority of Americans still wants to win the war in Iraq - and keep U.S. troops there until the Baghdad government can take over.

    Strong majorities also say victory is vital to the War on Terror and that Americans should support President Bush even if they have concerns about the way the war is being handled, according to the survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

    The poll found that 57 percent of Americans supported "finishing the job in Iraq" - keeping U.S. troops there until the Iraqis can provide security on their own. Forty-one percent disagreed.

    By 53 percent to 43 percent they also believe victory in Iraq over the insurgents is still possible...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Additional details.

    Note that POS (illustrative acronym ... ) is a Republican house polling firm that often does "push polling" as well as normal opinion polling. The NYPOST is a right-wing Rupert Murdoch rag that is widely regarded as the worst newspaper in the NY market, exceeded only in its hackery by the neocon-favoring NY SUN. The sports section ain't bad, though.

    More details on the poll here.

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    Default Pretty good polling

    Tequila--

    If you look at the information about the poll and the questions asked, it is both pretty solid and quite conventional. The questions are clear. The same thing is asked several times in a variety of ways and the answers are consistent. And the margin of error is stated relatively conservatively.

    As one who has done some survey research, I have no problem with this.

    Cheers

    John

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    That's why I included the poll data itself, so folks can judge. I thought some of the questions betray some push-poll stuff, and also the demographics of the poll lean heavily white, but otherwise not terrible. Nonetheless the origins of the poll are worth noting.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    And the New York Times is pure as the driven snow....

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Compared to the polling outfit of a political party?

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    Default Polling

    Actually party polling is usually kept in house and is considered much more accurate than Newspaper polls, because more is at stake. One of the problems with most of the media polls is they tend poll "satisfaction" instead of what results people want. Similar misleading polling was done after the Tet offensive, and when more details were added it turned out that a majority were either "satisfied" with the war policy or wanted a more aggressive policy. The one who wanted to lose were in a minority. I think that is still the case with the Iraq war. My poll question would be real simple--"Do you want to lose the war in Iraq?"

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Merv - There are two types of polling done. One is normal opinion polling, whose goal is to ascertain the true state of public opinion. The other is "push polling", where questions are asked similar to the one you ask, whose goal is to elicit a defined response and shape opinion rather than understand it.

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    Council Member Stratiotes's Avatar
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    Such results are not uncommon in time of war. Similar results were often obtained to the very end of the Vietnam war. Few will go out on a limb and say they'd like to just give up....even if they did not agree withthe war to begin with.
    Mark
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    Default Demographics and stuff

    The first thing to note about the demographics of the sample is that it is of "likely" voters. This means that there will almost certainly be some deviation from the percentages of selected groups among the population as a whole. In this case, blacks are represented fairly closely to their proportion of the population at large, but Hispanics are seriously underrepresented as, it appears, are Asians. But, then, Hispanics have been much less likely to vote, hence the over-representation of whites. The upper income groups and more hightly educated are also over-represented but again, they are more likely voters.

    As I indicated earlier, I did not see questions that appeared to predispose the respondents toward a particular answer and, more importantly, because there were multiple questions seeking to get at the same variables I am comfortable with the results.

    Interesting was that the polls taken post-Tet showed general dissatisfaction with the course of the war but when the questions asked what people wanted to do about it, they were all over the map. If I recall correctly, however, the bottom line was do what it takes to win or get out now. "Deja vu all over again" ?

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I can't comment on the mood of the country because I've been away for most of the past two years. And I can't comment about polls now or in the 60's and 70's. What I can comment on is what I remember about the mood of the nation in the 60's and 70's.

    We wanted to win the war. We didn't mind the sacrifices as demonstrated by the blood and treasure expended. We wanted leaders who wanted to win as much as we did. That, for whatever reason, is what we didn't get. The leadership we had couldn't make up its mind whether winning was even a good thing. So they bumbled along, safe inside the beltway while other people died, always appearing mature and reasonable.

    We put up with this for a long time until a critical number of people decided it just wasn't worth it anymore and we left. "win or get out now."

    Personally I see a similar thing happening now. We have a feckless (thank you Bing West) political leadership class that is afraid to try hard at anything for fear they may fail and look bad. They figure we are the same as they are so they are afraid to ask us to make the efforts (by us, I mean people who aren't in the military or otherwise serving) needed to win the war. So they have bumbled along.

    In both these wars, the fundamental problem is not with the character of the American people, it is with the character of the people inside the beltway, in academia and in the media.

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    Default Well Said

    Carl. I just read my old hometown newspaper. Farmers mostly live up there and I see where some of the farm women had sent some quilts they made over to some troops. The lady in charge of the operation thanked everyone and mentioned that not only would those quilts provide warmth but they could be used in times of sand storms. So I asked myself, how does a farm wife from our heartland know about sand storms in Iraq? Well, the answer is simple, she not only reads and keeps generally abreast of events but she has alot of common sense and common values so typical of our people. If a quilt on a farm could be used to wrap a new born, wet calf in the winter, kids in a stranded car, to cover a broken window in an emergency to keep out some of the cold or to smother a fire with, it certainly could be used against blowing sand. Common sense tells the common people that if we cut and run from Iraq, many jihadists and terrorists are not going to be content to leave it at that. Their energy and capability will continue to be deployed against our interests elsewhere, quite possibly here at home again. We the People know the wolf has to be kept away from the door.

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    tequila,

    I've read the poll a couple of times, and can't identify a push sequence. What series of questions are you refering to?
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    And, which one of the following would do most to hurt America's reputation as a world power... To pull our troops out of Iraq immediately ...or... To leave our troops in Iraq for as long as it takes to restore order?
    Frames the question to choose between removing troops and restoring order. The question assumes that leaving troops automatically leads to the restoration of order. It would be just as easy to ask: "Withdraw our troops in an orderly fashion ... or ... Leave our troops in Iraq to try and stop the civil war between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis?"

    While I donít agree that the US should be in the war, our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security to their country.
    Again, same assumption that troops staying = restoring order. A pro-withdrawal push poll could ask, "While I don't agree with precipitous withdrawal, our troops should not act as a police force and referee a civil war."

    I support finishing the job in Iraq, that is, keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people.
    Same assumption, with added note that the respondent is asked whether or not they are in favor of "finishing the job" --- the words are set up for positive association. Who's against finishing a job? Alternate question: "I support what the majority of Iraqis favor: an orderly withdrawal that results in American troops leaving Iraq within the year."

    Victory in Iraq, that is creating a young but stable democracy and reducing the threat of terrorism at home, is no longer possible for the US.
    Conflates two totally disassociated concepts - that creating democracy in Iraq will lead to reducing the threat of terrorism at home in the U.S.

    I donít really care about what happens in Iraq after the US leaves, I just want the troops brought home.
    Leads the respondent towards the idea that those who want troops pulled out don't care what happens in Iraq afterwards. Could just as easily be worded to lead the other way: "I want the troops brought home, but I believe that the U.S. should try to help the Iraqis achieve a stable government and economy with nonmilitary means."

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default tequila

    I went back and reread the poll in light of your comments. I don't see anything in it suggestive of a push poll. It seems to accurately and comprehensively cover the range of attitudes/goals/prescriptions currently in front of the public. I do agree that the alternative questions would have been "pushing" opinion. But they weren't the ones the poll used.
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    Default D'accord

    John--

    I fully agree with your analysis of the poll questions. Well said.

    John

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Needless to say, I totally disagree. You did not address any of my points, other than to note that you feel the poll's questions are completely fair.

    edit: Also I wonder how you account for the extraordinary difference between what this poll purports to show compared to the numerous other polls conducted around this issue that are linked in this thread. Also compared to the recent election results which saw the President's party lose its Congressional majority.
    Last edited by tequila; 02-22-2007 at 06:27 PM.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Polls

    Evening John and John !

    I have to strongly agree with Tequila, the poll is too obvious.

    This is unfortunately Psyops and CA at government levels, et al. The answers are in the questions (in this case the way they were presented).

    Frames the question to choose between removing troops and restoring order. The question assumes that leaving troops automatically leads to the restoration of order. It would be just as easy to ask: "Withdraw our troops in an orderly fashion ...
    Where do you hope to go from there ? There is no 'where' to go. The question contains its own answer and again unfortunately, most won't see it. That would be the reason for it in the first place. Or not ?

    Conflates two totally disassociated concepts - that creating democracy in Iraq will lead to reducing the threat of terrorism at home in the U.S.
    Tequila is dead on, not less. This is (I'm sorry) too easy. How does this Delta Hotel conclude this ? It's supposed to be a question.

    Sorry folks, I see it for what it is.

    Delta ! Forgot this one:
    [QUOTE]I wonder how you account for the extraordinary difference between what this poll purports to show compared to the numerous other polls conducted around this issue[QUOTE]
    I would like to know that as well. It just doesn't jive !
    Last edited by Stan; 02-22-2007 at 06:48 PM.

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default Stan,

    We may all wind up agreeing to disagree on this one. Taking the easy part first, the extraordinary discrepency is probably due to the fact that people are extraordinarily complex. No one feels any great need to be consistent. I suspect a lot of people are responding with an attitude of: yeah, the war sucks, wish we weren't there, now lets roll up our sleeves and get the unplesent chore done.

    As to the questions, my read is that the poll adopted the language of the different parties to present the choices. As an example, and whether we agree or not, one side is calling for "immediate" withdrawal, and the other proposes staying until we restore order.

    My point is that using the language chosen by the various policy advocates to present their position can not be termed push polling. Neither can framing a question in semantically neutral terms: "Restore order" is semantically neutral, since it only requires agreement that there is disorder in Iraq, and requires no agreement on its composition, causes, etc. "... stop the civil war between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis" is not neutral, because it imposes assumptions about the nature of the disorder.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Agree to Disagree it is !

    Hello John,

    My point is that using the language chosen by the various policy advocates to present their position can not be termed push polling. Neither can framing a question in semantically neutral terms: "Restore order" is semantically neutral, since it only requires agreement that there is disorder in Iraq, and requires no agreement on its composition, causes, etc. "... stop the civil war between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis" is not neutral, because it imposes assumptions about the nature of the disorder.
    I can't pen this Bravo Sierra the way others do. I just see it for what it is based on my 23 years of observing 'it' (US Army). Perhaps far too simply for the Beltway Bandits. Push Polling ? Nah, I call it obscure and vague with sinister suggestion(s).

    Semantics it is. Thier target audience (unlike most of us herein) suffer fools at the language used for mere political propaganda. Exactly what effect do they desire to achieve with this 'audience' ?

    This poll is then doing what (assuming I agree with it's findings) ? If it later turns out vague, do I have a recourse ? Can I be polled again and refute the previous findings ?

    I'd prefer to 'Papa and Motel' ....it's more fun

    Regards, Stan
    Last edited by Stan; 02-22-2007 at 08:14 PM.

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