The Democrats hit General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker with the results of an ABC/BBC poll of Iraqi citizens during the two days of testimony. Barbara Boxer was so immersed in the poll results that she couldn't even muster up a question for General Petraeus. Since the poll results were not released until Monday September 10, 2007, it left little time for an indepth look at the poll, the sampling size, the surveyors and the results from all the questions.
First of all - the sample size. The number of Iraqis questioned for the poll was approximately 2100 people. 2100 people in a country with an estimated population of 27,499,638 according to the CIA Factbook. That means the poll results were from 1/1000 of the population. How can a sample size that small even be considered partially representative of the population?
Next - the polling companies. The polls were managed by D3 Systems of Vienna, VA and KA Research Ltd of Istanbul. Both polling companies work with an all-Iraqi staff from in-country. I have no way of knowing the ulterior motives of the Iraqi staff members but recalling the number of "in-country" media stringers who have been involved with insurgents makes one wonder. Both companies have performed similar surveys for ABC and BBC prior to this one.
Last but not least the results that didn't make it into the media. For argument's sake lets ignore the small sample size and just look at the results. Several questions had the choices of "much better", "somewhat better", "about the same", "somewhat worse" and "much worse" but "stayed the same" was ignored completely. Keep in mind that this poll was done in August 2007. The surge did not officially start until June 2007 when all the troops were in place. Those responses in between make quite a bit of difference when looking at the results.
Take Question 2 of the poll: "What is your expectation for how things overall in your life will be in a year from now?" 61% answered either "much better", "somewhat better" or "about the same". 39% answered "somewhat worse" or "much worse". The results don't sound as gasp-inspiring as "Only 29% think things will get better in the next year" as reported by the BBC.
Question 10 asked "In the past six months has the security situation in this neighbourhood/village become better, become worse or stayed the same?" 69% of those responding said security had become better or stayed about the same. 31% said it was worse. Since we were only 2 months into the surge, those results are not as dire as reported by the Democrats in Congress.
One question that got a lot of media exposure was Question 21 "How long do you think US and other Coalition forces should remain in Iraq?" 47% answered "leave now". BUT 53% answered that US and Coalition forces should remain until security is restored or the Iraqi government is stronger.
And about withdrawal before civil order is fully restored? 46% believe that withdrawal will make it more likely for Iraq to become a base of operations for international terrorists. 46% also believe that Iran will take control of parts of Iraq if there is an early withdrawal.
Results that painted Iraqis as on the road to reconciliation were completely ignored by the media. Question 13 asked "Which of the following structures do you believe Iraq should have in the future?" 62% of Iraqis responded "one unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad.
"Confidence in the Iraqi Army - 66% answered "great deal of confidence" or "quite a lot of confidence"
Confidence in the Iraqi Police - 69% answered "great deal of confidence" or "quite a lot of confidence."
Willingness of members of the National Assembly of Iraq to make necessary compromises to bring peace and security to the country? - 50%
Separation of people on sectarian lines - 98% responded it was a "bad thing"
The Iraqis' responses to questions about Al Qaeda in Iraq and Iran were conveniently left out of the media reporting. 21% of Iraqis surveyed blame Al Qaeda and foreign jihads for most of the violence (up from 18% in 2/07). While 19% blamed the US or Coalition forces for most of the violence, that number is down from 31% in Feb 2007.
Other questions about Al Qaeda included:
attacks on US and coalition forces - 51% unacceptable
attacks on Iraqi civilians - 100% unacceptable
attempts to gain control in local areas - 98% unacceptable
Countries actively engaged in encouraging sectarian violence within Iraq:
Syria - 66%
Iran - 79%
Saudi Arabia - 65%
So while the small sample size did reveal some negative results for the US and Coalition Forces, there were many more positive results that never made it into the media. These positive results actually back up the maligned testimony of Iraq's reconciliation progress.
Once again the media reports the poll results that make America look bad and ignore the results that point to progress. Typical.