posted on Feb, 6 2003 @ 02:57 PM
Poll: Majority See Justification for War
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 6, 2003; 10:35 AM
In the aftermath of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's address to the United Nations, a growing majority of Americans now say the United States has
presented enough evidence to justify going to war with Iraq, according to a new washingtonpost.com-ABC News poll.
Overall, more than six in 10 Americans-61 percent-believe that the Bush administration has made the case for war, up from 54 percent in a survey
conducted last week after the president's State of the Union address.
But the survey also found that Powell's speech did not immediately increase public sentiment for launching a war with Iraq or deepen support among
those who favor using military force. Two in three continue to favor attacking Iraq, with slightly fewer than half of the country "strongly"
supporting a military option, unchanged from last week. One in four-27 percent-now oppose going to war, down slightly from a week ago.
The poll found that seven in 10 also believed that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, and a slightly larger proportion believe that Saddam
Hussein is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. Six in 10 believe Iraq is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
But most Americans are not yet convinced that Iraq has provided assistance to the al Qaeda terrorist group, including those familiar with Powell's
speech. In his address, the secretary of state went to great lengths to tie Iraq and Saddam Hussein to international terrorism and the group
responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
According to the poll, a clear majority now support taking action against Iraq within the next few weeks, rather than waiting a few months or longer
to make a final decision about going to war, as France and other U.S. allies have urged.
A total of 504 randomly selected adults were interviewed Wednesday night for this washingtonpost.com-ABC News survey. The margin of sampling error for
the overall results is plus or minus 5 percentage points. The practical difficulties of doing a survey in a single night represent additional
potential sources of error in this poll
The survey suggests that Powell succeeded in presenting a persuasive case for war to the American public. Six in 10 Americans said they had seen or
heard the speech or news accounts about it. Among this group, seven in ten said there was now enough evidence to justify going to war.
Those familiar with his presentation also were nearly twenty percentage points more likely to say that the administration has shown "strong
evidence" that Iraq possessed chemical or biological weapons (78 percent compared to 60 percent.) Speech watchers were also somewhat more likely to
say the United States has proven that Iraq is trying to develop nuclear weapons and that Iraq is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors.
Less than half of those surveyed (49 percent) said the administration presented a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, and those familiar with
the speech were no more likely (50 percent) to be convinced than those who had not heard about yesterday's Security Council appearance (47
News of Powell's address was not limited to war hawks and fellow Republicans. Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to report having watched
or heard about the U.N. appearance (60 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of GOP members). War proponents were only somewhat more likely than
opponents to have heard about the speech last night (64 percent compared to 54 percent).
Overall, the administration has been much more successful convincing Republicans of the merits of their case for war: 91 percent of Republicans said
they've seen enough evidence, compared to 54 percent of political independents and 43 percent of Democrats.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll also conducted last night also found that the majority of those who had heard about the U.N. speech found Powell's
presentation to be convincing, but relatively few minds were instantly changed.
About four in ten speech watchers said the Secretary of State made a "very strong case" for military action, and a similar percentage thought he
made a "fairly strong" case. But the immediate increase in support for a ground invasion of Iraq was only 7 percentage points (from 50 percent to 57
percent among those familiar with the speech.)
As in the washingtonpost.com-ABC poll, Americans were least persuaded by Powell's assertion of ties between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorist
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