Americans Continue to Believe Iraq Supported Al Qaeda, Had WMD
Few Perceive Experts as Saying Contrary
Shifts in Perceptions Could Influence Vote for President
Perceptions of US Troop Fatalities Having Little Impact on Support for War
Perceptions of World Public Opinion Appear Highly Influential
College Park, MD: According to a new PIPA/Knowledge Networks poll, a majority of Americans (57%) continue to believe that before the war Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, including 20% who believe that Iraq was directly involved in the September 11 attacks.
Forty-five percent believe that evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found. Sixty percent believe that just before the war Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction (38%) or a major program for developing them (22%).
Despite statements by Richard Clarke, David Kay, Hans Blix and others, few Americans perceive most experts as saying the contrary. Only 15% said they are hearing "experts mostly agree Iraq was not providing substantial support to al Qaeda," while 82% either said that "experts mostly agree Iraq was providing substantial support" (47%) or "experts are evenly divided on the question" (35%). Only 34% said they thought most experts believe Iraq did not have WMD, while 65% said most experts say Iraq did have them (30%) or that experts are divided on the question (35%).
Not surprisingly, perceptions of what experts are saying are highly correlated with beliefs about prewar Iraq, which in turn are highly correlated with support for the decision to go to war.
Perhaps most relevant politically, perceptions of what the experts are saying are also highly correlated with intentions to vote for the President in the upcoming election. Among those who perceived experts as saying that Iraq had WMD, 72% said they would vote for Bush and 23% said they would vote for Kerry, while among those who perceived experts as saying that Iraq did not have WMD, 23% said they would vote for Bush and 74% for Kerry.