Sep 19, 2007

No Post-Petraeus Bounce

Assessing the effectiveness of an information operation is an important part of the IO process.

Polling -- when conditions permit -- is considered to be a very good Measure of Effectiveness (MOE) in the Info Op biz.

The IO Working Group that managed the domestic influence campaign that centered around the Petraeus/Crocker testimony cannot be pleased with the results of the polling data now starting to come in. The American people -- their characteristic common sense on display -- failed to be swayed to change their opinion of the war and their estimate of the chances of U.S. success going forward.

The American public long ago reached a verdict regarding Iraq, and, for the Bush administration, it isn't a reassuring one. Most US voters have little confidence in the administration's Iraq strategy – though the White House does retain a core of committed support.

So far there is little evidence that President Bush's speech to the nation Sept. 13, or last week's testimony by the top US commander and the top US diplomat in Iraq explaining the outcome of the surge , changed matters. A CBS News poll released Monday found 63 percent of respondents judged that things are going badly in Iraq, while only 34 percent said they are going well – about the same percentage split as before Mr. Bush's address.

More than half of respondents to the CBS survey said the surge of additional US troops, which began in January, has had no impact. ...

The conflict in Iraq has now gone on so long that most Americans have had time to make up their minds about it, say opinion experts. While speeches and other events have caused upward blips in the polls in the past, in general public attitudes have shown a long, slow slide.

A new Gallup poll also finds little evidence of a post-Petraeus bounce:

According to a Sept. 14-16, 2007, USA Today/Gallup poll, only one-third of Americans are optimistic the United States will win the war in Iraq; nearly two-thirds generally think the U.S. will not win. These figures are virtually unchanged from the previous poll, conducted Sept. 7-8. ...

Americans are sending ambiguous messages about what to do in Iraq. On the one hand, they think going to Iraq was a mistake, are dubious the troop surge has been effective or that the war will be won, and would like to start withdrawing U.S. troops on a timetable. Most of these positions run contrary to the message delivered by Petraeus to Congress last week. At the same time, Petraeus is increasingly well-regarded by the public, and his plan for a long-term incremental pullout of Iraq is generally supported.

On the other hand, if the objective of the IO plan was to buy time politically for President Bush to hand off the mess to the next occupant of the White House, the effort probably cannot be judged to have been a complete failure.

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