Wednesday, March 26
Opinions Begin to Shift as Public Weighs War Costs
by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder, New York Times, March 26, 2003
Americans say the war in Iraq will last longer and cost more than they had initially expected, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The shift comes as the public absorbs the first reports of allied setbacks on the battlefield.
At the same time, President Bush's campaign to remove Saddam Hussein from power is producing sharp fissures at home.
The poll found that black Americans are far more likely than whites to oppose Mr. Bush's policy in Iraq. They are also much more likely to say that the cost of ousting Mr. Hussein was too high, as measured by the loss of life.
Over all, with the war not even a week old, the nation's opinion about the conflict appears to be in flux, driven by an intensity of coverage that has allowed television viewers seemingly to follow every move from their living rooms, and in an environment where many Americans say they remain unsure of Mr. Bush's rationale for the conflict.
Indeed, the Times/CBS News Poll found that the number of Americans who expected the war to be won quickly dropped 9 points from Saturday to Sunday, and 10 more points from Sunday to Monday. Those shifts coincided with television coverage of prisoners of war and battlefield casualties that seems to have caught at least some Americans — accustomed to the relatively bloodless victory in Afghanistan last year — by surprise.