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October 24, 2007

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Iraq, the Surge, Partition, and the War: Public Opinion by City and Region

The report was prepared with the aid of Gary Langer and the ABC polling unit. It provides a detailed analysis of a recent poll of Iraqi public opinion on the war, sectarian cleansing, the Iraqi government, US forces and the surge, and many of the other issues that show the state of Iraq hearts and minds. It also shows the differences in such public opinion by sect, ethnicity, governorate, and major city where the sample of public opinion was large enough to provide a valid picture that could be broken out into such detail.

The results should be reviewed in detail. Polls do not provide some simply punch line insights, they rather provide a mosaic of the various attitudes Iraqis have towards key issues. Unless they are reviewed in detail, picking out one trend or result can be more misleading than helpful. This is particularly true of the results in this analysis. Some are consistent with the results of previous polls over a period of several years. Some reflect the initial impact of changes in US strategy and the surge at a time when the degree of added security in Baghdad and the impact of the tribal awakening in Anbar was less apparent to most Iraqis than it is today.

The reader should also remember that the results in this report do reflect “hearts and minds” on a broad level. Decision makers often act on their own, very different perceptions. Violence and extremism are also generally driven by the views and actions of small minorities. Broad popular support for violence is rare, but this can have limited impact in a nation where minorities are willing to kill and use extreme violence with or without popular support.