A Washington Post editorial titled "Gains and Risks in Iraq" cited an International Republican Institute (IRI) poll that showed "60 percent of Iraqis believed the country is headed in the right direction." But the Post did not attribute the poll to the IRI or note the organization's strong partisan affiliations; indeed, well-connected Republicans occupy every seat on its board of directors.
The wide-open politicking, itself a welcome novelty in the Arab world, caused some to fret that Iraqis would again grow disillusioned after the high point of the Jan. 30 elections, or that Sunni insurgents would grow stronger. The opposite seems to be true. A poll taken in late February and early March showed that 60 percent of Iraqis believed the country is headed in the right direction, and almost as many expected the situation will "slowly" improve.
In its own reporting on Iraqi public opinion, The New York Times has noted that "[n]othing like a scientific poll is possible yet in Iraq."
A March 15 report in USA Today -- which also ignored IRI's partisan ties -- raised questions about the poll's accuracy. The paper noted that the poll failed to sample any Iraqis located in two predominantly Sunni provinces. As a result, the poll oversampled the more pro-American Shiite population. According to USA Today:
Pollsters did not survey three of Iraq's 18 provinces because of security and logistical concerns. Two of those omitted, Anbar and Ninevah, are predominantly Sunni Muslim. A third, Dahuk, is mostly Kurdish. [IRI director of operations for Iraq Steve] Krusell said that even if those areas had been included and 100% had expressed negative views, the poll would still have shown that most Iraqis believe that the situation in their country is improving.