Wash. Post apparently invented polling data to suggest little support for Murtha's Iraq proposal

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

The Washington Post reported that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi adopted "a position that polls show most Americans do not support" when she backed Rep. John Murtha's Iraq withdrawal proposal. However, a review of recent polling data found no polls that asked whether respondents support Murtha's proposal to withdraw troops "at the earliest practicable date," or on his estimate that it should take six months to do so.

Washington Post staff writers Jim VandeHei and Shalaigh Murray reported in a December 7 article that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adopted "a position that polls show most Americans do not support" when she voiced her support for Rep. John P. Murtha's (D-PA) Iraq withdrawal proposal. VandeHei and Murray provided no support for their assertion about polling data, nor apparently is such support available. A Media Matters for America review of polling data did not identify any polls that asked whether respondents support withdrawing U.S. troops "at the earliest practicable date" -- as Murtha's resolution (House Joint Resolution 73) stated -- or within the six-month timeframe Murtha suggested was a "reasonable" estimate for how long it would take if his resolution were enacted.

As Media Matters has documented, at a November 17 press conference, Murtha described his resolution as an "immediate redeployment of U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces to create a quick reaction force in the region, to create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines, and to diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq." Asked by a reporter "how long that would be," Murtha responded, "you have to do it in a very consistent way, but I think six months would be a reasonable time to get them out of there."

It is unclear whether Pelosi supports Murtha's estimate of withdrawing all U.S. troops within six months, or just the resolution's broader aim to do so as soon as is "practicable." In either event, while polls have asked questions such as whether respondents would support withdrawing U.S. troops now or in 12 months, and whether respondents generally support or oppose a timetable for withdrawal, Media Matters found no evidence of polling data that included Murtha's proposal -- "at the earliest practicable date" -- or his six-month estimated timetable as answer options to when troops should be withdrawn.

As Media Matters has previously noted, conservative media figures have distorted Murtha's proposal by conflating it with a Republican-sponsored resolution that was summarily rejected on the House floor. That resolution -- reportedly intended as a "political trap" for Democrats -- contrasted with Murtha's resolution in that it proposed "the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

From the December 7 Washington Post article:

Despite Pelosi's claims that she echoes the views of most members in her caucus, plenty of Democrats are cringing at her new high profile on an Iraq withdrawal. Not only did she back a position that polls show most Americans do not support, but she also did this when Bush is trying to move off the defensive by accusing Democrats of supporting a de facto surrender.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Stories/Interests
Polling
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