Monday, December 12, 2005

Time/ABC poll shows Dem's reported numbers are bogus

Round and about the Democrats' camps there's been a lot of air time dedicated to a poll that showed 80% of Iraqis wanted the American forces out of Iraq yesterday if not sooner. The most recent polling for Time/ABC shows that those numbers are simply not representative of reality. And it shows a lot more information than just that.

::::::::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.

Nonetheless, nationally, security is seen as the most pressing problem by far; 57 percent identify it as the country's top priority. Economic improvements are helping the public mood.

Average household incomes have soared by 60 percent in the last 20 months (to $263 a month), 70 percent of Iraqis rate their own economic situation positively, and consumer goods are sweeping the country. In early 2004, 6 percent of Iraqi households had cell phones; now it's 62 percent. Ownership of satellite dishes has nearly tripled, and many more families now own air conditioners (58 percent, up from 44 percent), cars, washing machines and kitchen appliances.

The poll also cites improving political signs as well, with 70%+ numbers of those expressing approval of the constitution there, confidence in their government, and a desire for Iraq to remain a unifed country.

There are negative indicators in the poll results, too, as you'd expect. One of the items listed as a negative but, given the "sky is falling" approach of Democrats lately, appears to be a positive now is that 26% of those polled say American and Coalition forces should leave now. There's a long road between 26% and the 80% being cited by Democrats. In fact, if you add that 26% to the group who thinks we should leave after these elections, you still only get 45%. The remainder of those polled think we should leave after the security situation has been stabilized, or after their own security forces are fully trained and equipped. Which, if you've been listening, is exactly what President Bush has been saying we're going to do for the past 2 years. Looks like Joe Liberman was right on the matter.

There's some curious numbers in those negative indicators, though, and as someone who recently went through a statistics class I am wondering at what the factors are in them. The poll indicates that while 70% of those polled say they are personally much better off and headed in the right direction, only 44% say the same about the country as a whole. Fifty-two percent (52%) say the country is doing badly. Now, if 70% of the population in Iraq is better off (by their own admission) how can the country as a whole be doing so much worse? The Occam's Razor answer to that is that their perception of their own circumstances is formed by their own experiences while their perception of the circumstances of the country as a whole is formed by the information they get from the news media. In the case of the average Iraqi, these days, that means satellite TV services such as CNN International, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. Those services haven't been painting the situation in Iraq any better in their broadcasts in Iraq than they have in their broadcasts here. Given the take on how Iraq's doing from the American public, I can understand why the Iraqi public is saying he country is doing badly while they, themselves, are doing great.

It's also curious to see such a large number listed for Iraqis who think it was wrong for US-led Coalition forces to invade in 2003. So, they're much better off personally since the invasion, but it was wrong to invade. Does that make any sense? When you see numbers like that, you have to wonder how the questions were worded. The poll's fieldwork was done by Oxford Research International which is a firm that generally does pretty well but that result doesn't appear rational at all. If I were the recipient of that data, I'd have to ask to see the actual questions and figure out if they imparted an answer bias in their wording. You'd hope that was screened before the poll was taken.

The last item I saw listed in the "negative" section that made me smile was the assertion that "nearly half" of Iraqis would like to see US forces "leave soon." No kidding? "Nearly" half? Well, folks, get in line behind the "nearly all" Americans that would like to see the same thing. Virtually no one I've spoken to wants the US to maintain a presence there in Iraq forever. Now, if the Iraqis want to offer us the chance to put an airbase in there or take up a pier or two for a naval base that would be one thing. I see no issue with that that doesn't exist for American military bases in Germany, Poland, Italy, Japan, or anywhere else. But no one here wants our forces to be deployed as a security force in Iraq on an extended basis as they have been. We have been making very steady progress in that direction for some time now and we stand literally on the brink of success in assisting the Iraqis to become a sustaining democracy. As the President has been saying for some time now we'll stand down when that happens.

Hat Tip: Captain's Quarters.