New ABC Poll From Iraq Reveals Fear, Hopelessness (Important Update)

Rick Moran
ABC News has released the results of a poll from Iraq that shows the Iraqi people much more pessimistic and fearful than they were two years ago:

A new national survey paints a devastating portrait of life in Iraq: widespread violence, torn lives, displaced families, emotional damage, collapsing services, an ever starker sectarian chasm -- and a draining away of the underlying optimism that once prevailed.

Violence is the cause, its reach vast. Eighty percent of Iraqis report attacks nearby -- car bombs, snipers, kidnappings, armed forces fighting each other or abusing civilians. It's worst by far in the capital of Baghdad, but by no means confined there. The personal toll is enormous.

More than half of Iraqis, 53 percent, have a close friend or relative who's been hurt or killed in the current violence. One in six says someone in their own household has been harmed. Eighty-six percent worry about a loved one being hurt; two-thirds worry deeply. Huge numbers limit their daily activities to minimize risk. Seven in 10 report multiple signs of traumatic stress.
This is the third poll taken of Iraqis since the occupation and the comparative numbers between this one and the one taken in 2005 are shocking to say the least. I suppose it shouldn't come as too great a surprise given that the levels of violence escalated between the time the two polls were taken and that despite a downturn in the violence as a result of the surge, mass casualty attacks still plague Baghdad and other cities.

I suppose opponents of the surge will point to this poll as "proof" that it is not working. I think that a little unfair simply because it will take time for people's fear to ebb. If the surge can be sustained into the spring, it might be interesting to come back to Iraq and ask the same questions.

UPDATE

"Appalling dishonesty" comes to mind  when describing what ABC News is doing here.

Thanks to sharp-eyed AT reader Christopher Alleva, we discover a little detail that the article I linked above failed to include; the fact that the poll is about 6 months old:  
More than 100 people worked in the field to complete the survey, randomly selecting and interviewing 2,212 Iraqi adults in 458 locales across the country from Feb. 25 to March 5. Interviewers and supervisors kept journal entries of their experiences -- and while most were relatively uneventful, that wasn't always the case.
What was ABC doing? Holding the poll until just the right moment in the debate then dumping it on the public? As far fetched as that might sound, it is even more difficult to believe that they have just now finished collating and analyzing the data. Releasing it on the eve of the Petreaus report is just a coincidence.

I think the fact that the poll was taken so long ago makes it absolutely useless as a gauge of current thinking in Iraq. ABC ought to be ashamed of itself. They could not have been blind to the implications involved in releasing this poll at this time.

Blind, partisan hackery...

UPDATE II - OOOPS!

The above update is incorrect. In fact, the full explanation of the methodology of the poll shows that they "bracketed" their results by asking the questions 6 months ago and then coming back in August and asking the same questions.

The poll combines attitudes from 6 months ago with those today.

It is incorrect to say they are using data solely from 6 months ago. I apologize for the error and for the confusion.
ABC News has released the results of a poll from Iraq that shows the Iraqi people much more pessimistic and fearful than they were two years ago:

A new national survey paints a devastating portrait of life in Iraq: widespread violence, torn lives, displaced families, emotional damage, collapsing services, an ever starker sectarian chasm -- and a draining away of the underlying optimism that once prevailed.

Violence is the cause, its reach vast. Eighty percent of Iraqis report attacks nearby -- car bombs, snipers, kidnappings, armed forces fighting each other or abusing civilians. It's worst by far in the capital of Baghdad, but by no means confined there. The personal toll is enormous.

More than half of Iraqis, 53 percent, have a close friend or relative who's been hurt or killed in the current violence. One in six says someone in their own household has been harmed. Eighty-six percent worry about a loved one being hurt; two-thirds worry deeply. Huge numbers limit their daily activities to minimize risk. Seven in 10 report multiple signs of traumatic stress.
This is the third poll taken of Iraqis since the occupation and the comparative numbers between this one and the one taken in 2005 are shocking to say the least. I suppose it shouldn't come as too great a surprise given that the levels of violence escalated between the time the two polls were taken and that despite a downturn in the violence as a result of the surge, mass casualty attacks still plague Baghdad and other cities.

I suppose opponents of the surge will point to this poll as "proof" that it is not working. I think that a little unfair simply because it will take time for people's fear to ebb. If the surge can be sustained into the spring, it might be interesting to come back to Iraq and ask the same questions.

UPDATE

"Appalling dishonesty" comes to mind  when describing what ABC News is doing here.

Thanks to sharp-eyed AT reader Christopher Alleva, we discover a little detail that the article I linked above failed to include; the fact that the poll is about 6 months old:  
More than 100 people worked in the field to complete the survey, randomly selecting and interviewing 2,212 Iraqi adults in 458 locales across the country from Feb. 25 to March 5. Interviewers and supervisors kept journal entries of their experiences -- and while most were relatively uneventful, that wasn't always the case.
What was ABC doing? Holding the poll until just the right moment in the debate then dumping it on the public? As far fetched as that might sound, it is even more difficult to believe that they have just now finished collating and analyzing the data. Releasing it on the eve of the Petreaus report is just a coincidence.

I think the fact that the poll was taken so long ago makes it absolutely useless as a gauge of current thinking in Iraq. ABC ought to be ashamed of itself. They could not have been blind to the implications involved in releasing this poll at this time.

Blind, partisan hackery...

UPDATE II - OOOPS!

The above update is incorrect. In fact, the full explanation of the methodology of the poll shows that they "bracketed" their results by asking the questions 6 months ago and then coming back in August and asking the same questions.

The poll combines attitudes from 6 months ago with those today.

It is incorrect to say they are using data solely from 6 months ago. I apologize for the error and for the confusion.