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Poll Analysis
February 11, 2003

Cautious Support for War in Iraq
People Want Proof, Allies, and are Willing to Wait

Analysis by Floyd Ciruli

A series of post-State of the Union surveys indicate that using force to remove Saddam Hussein from power has the support of the majority of Americans. A just completed statewide Colorado survey by Ciruli Associates for the Denver Post shows 53 percent of residents support use of military force; 42 percent oppose.

Support and Opposition for Military Force in Iraq Post-State of the Union
. Colorado National
Denver Post
Washington Post
L.A. Times
Favor 53% 66% 57% 58%
Oppose 42% 31% 38% 38%
Don't Know 5% 3% 5% 4%

Question: As of today, do you favor or oppose having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to try to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Ciruli Associates, N500, 1/30/03

Question: Would you favor or oppose having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to force Saddam Hussein from power? Washington Post/ABC News, N855, 2/01/03

Question: Suppose President George W. Bush decides to order U.S. troops into a ground attack against Iraqi forces. Would you support or oppose that decision? L.A. Times, N1385, 2/02/03

Question: Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Gallup, N1003, 2/02/03

Support for war is likely to increase with hostilities. In Iraq in 1990, support dropped from the 70s in August and September to the upper-50s to the mid-60s in the two months before combat. It remained steady until the war began. It then jumped to the 80s and remained there during the duration of combat.

Gulf War I 1991
Use of Military Force
Favor going
to war
Oppose going
to war
Dec. 6-9, 1990 61% 33%
Jan. 11-13, 1991 63% 33%

Approve going
to war
Disapprove going
to war
Jan. 17-21, 1991 80% 15%
Gallup, 1990, 1991

In this conflict the president’s approval ratings will likely rest directly on the speed, cost and success of military action. The large block of swing voters, compiled with questions concerning the timing and conditions of war suggest that if the invasion bogs down, and if the costs in soldiers and money escalate, the administration could face a rapid deterioration of public support. On the other hand, if the war takes only a few weeks, with few casualties and a successful conclusion, Bush and his team are likely to be well rewarded in public opinion.


  • Telephone survey of 500 Colorado adult residents was conducted by Ciruli Associates from January 29 to January 30, 2003 for the Denver Post. Respondents were selected by random digit dialing with a random sample of statewide area telephone exchanges.

  • Statistical range of accuracy in 19 out of 20 cases is ±4.3 percentage points for a sample size of 500.

  • Ciruli Associates is a non-partisan research firm providing polling, election analysis and political commentary to Colorado and national media organizations since 1976.


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