WSJ's Stephens claimed that Americans are "not for pulling out" of Iraq; polls suggest otherwise
Research ››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER
On The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Bret Stephens asserted that an internal White House poll "reflects the fact that Americans want a strategy for winning ... not for pulling out," but failed to note that the most recent Journal poll, as well as other recent public polls, show that Americans do support pulling troops out of Iraq.
On the June 24 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Bret Stephens responded to host Paul Gigot's claim that internal White House polling has found that public support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq has never exceeded "32 percent" and "has fallen to 25 percent" by baselessly asserting that the White House poll "reflects the polling we have seen." Stephens then added that the White House poll "reflects the fact that Americans want a strategy for winning ... not for pulling out." However, the most recent poll conducted by the Journal itself found that a majority of respondents would be "more likely" to vote for a congressional candidate who favored pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, while other recent public polls suggest that a majority of Americans support pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq, as Media Matters for America recently noted.
According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted June 9-12, 54 percent of those surveyed said they would be "more likely" to vote for a congressional candidate who favored "pulling all American troops out of Iraq in the next twelve months," while 32 percent disagreed. Similarly, a June 14-19 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 52 percent of respondents believed that the United States should "set a timetable for when troops will be withdrawn from Iraq," while 42 percent disagreed. A CNN poll conducted June 14-15 similarly found that 53 percent of respondents favored a timetable for withdrawal, while 41 percent opposed such a measure.
In addition, a June 23-25 USA Today/Gallup poll, released after Stephens' comments on The Journal Editorial Report, found that 50 percent of those polled said the U.S. should withdraw troops from Iraq at some point within the next year (17 percent said "immediately" and 33 percent said "in 12 months' time") compared with 41 percent who said the U.S. should "take as many years as needed." A June 22-25 ABC News/Washington Post poll, also released after Stephens' comments, found that Americans were almost evenly split over the question of whether "the United States should or should not set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, with a slim majority of 51 percent saying that the United States "should not set a deadline" and 47 percent saying it should, nearly double the amount that Stephens claimed support troop withdrawal.
From the June 24 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report:
GIGOT: Bret, this is an amazing political turnabout. I mean, two or three weeks ago the Iraq war was thought to be a big Republican disadvantage. But what we have seen in the House and this week in
the Senate is that the Democrats are now divided on Iraq. What -- what changed?
GIGOT: I know it will surprise you, Bret, to find out that the White House actually does polling on Iraq war. And they found support for pulling out was the high point -- all along has only been 32 percent. And the last couple of weeks, it has fallen to 25 percent. I think that also helped Republicans get the -- the courage of their convictions on Iraq and it was striking to me that the Republican Party, House and Senate kind of rallied here behind the president. When, as you know, there has been a lot of private griping about how this war has been prosecuted.
STEPHENS: I think that -- I think that's right. I think that polling reflects the polling we have seen. Both the disenchantment with the administration, as well as the poll you just mentioned, reflects the fact that Americans want a strategy for winning, as Melanie said -- not for pulling out, not for extricating ourselves from -- from problems that I think a majority of Americans understand we can't simply wash our hands of, but for winning. And for a long time, there was this sense of drift. The killing of [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, the creation of -- the completion of [Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-] Maliki's government, a sense of progress in -- in -- in Iraqi politics, and, of course, [President] Bush's visit to Baghdad are changing that perception.