ABC has a poll of the Iraqi population, with some interesting results:
An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.
Surprisingly, given the insurgents’ attacks on Iraqi civilians, more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply from just 40 percent in a poll in June 2004. And 61 percent say local security is good — up from 49 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.***
There are positive political signs as well. Three-quarters of Iraqis express confidence in the national elections being held this week, 70 percent approve of the new constitution, and 70 percent — including most people in Sunni and Shiite areas alike — want Iraq to remain a unified country.
Interest in politics has soared.
Preference for a democratic political structure has advanced, to 57 percent of Iraqis, while support for an Islamic state has lost ground, to 14 percent (the rest, 26 percent, chiefly in Sunni Arab areas, favor a “single strong leader.”)
Whatever the current problems, 69 percent of Iraqis expect things for the country overall to improve in the next year — a remarkable level of optimism in light of the continuing violence there. However, in a sign of the many challenges ahead, this optimism is far lower in Sunni Arab-dominated provinces, where just 35 percent are optimistic about the country’s future.***
Other views, moreover, are more negative: Fewer than half, 46 percent, say the country is better off now than it was before the war. And half of Iraqis now say it was wrong for U.S.-led forces to invade in spring 2003, up from 39 percent in 2004.
The number of Iraqis who say things are going well in their country overall is just 44 percent, far fewer than the 71 percent who say their own lives are going well. Fifty-two percent instead say the country is doing badly.
There’s other evidence of the United States’ increasing unpopularity: Two-thirds now oppose the presence of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, 14 points higher than in February 2004. Nearly six in 10 disapprove of how the United States has operated in Iraq since the war, and most of them disapprove strongly. And nearly half of Iraqis would like to see U.S. forces leave soon.
The entire poll can be found here (.pdf).
Seems to me there is broad improvement in attitudes about a number of things, and I am not that distressed by the higher numbers who want troops to leave. I would worry if they didn’t want us there. Would you like a foreign Army roaming your neighborhood?
It will be interesting to see how the elections play out this week.
*** Update ***
If you want some sober analysis of Iraq, check out the always excellent Belgravia Dispatch. Key things to pay attention regarding the elections this week:
One of the key dangers in all of this, it might be pointed out, are false declarations of victory (that, in turn, help lead to too rapid deadlines that, despite attempts to conceal any linkage, are often really more related to American political calendars than actual conditions on the ground in Iraq). Come December 15th, if the elections move forward without catastrophe (which they will), there will be much euphoria about what a massive step has taken place, and there will be declarations of victory aplenty. But these triumphalist notes are dangerously premature indeed, as serious observers well realize. To be sure, who but the greatest cynics can remain unmoved at the specter of the veritable birth of modern, post-Saddam Iraqi politics, with myriad political parties sprouting up, and even formerly hostile Sunnis being urged to take up the ballot box rather than the gun (if only temporarily)? But still, minimizing the endemic violence, the myriad perils still facing Iraq, and just speaking breezily about a normalization of Iraqi politics (bombings happen a lot in the Arab world, after all!) is just bunk. Yes, it is irresponsible in the extreme to have already declared victory.
More here from Cathy Young.