Sizeable Minorities Still Believe Saddam Hussein Had Strong Links to Al Qaeda, Helped Plan 9/11 and Had Weapons of Mass Destruction

However, the numbers have fallen substantially this year



Dec 29, 2005, 00:00 ET from Harris Interactive

    ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- More than four years after the
 attacks of September 11, 2001, many U.S. adults still believe some of the
 justifications for the invasion of Iraq, which have now been discredited,
 according to a new Harris Poll. For example:
 
     -- Forty-one percent (41%) of U.S. adults believe that Saddam Hussein had
        "strong links to Al Qaeda."
     -- Twenty-two percent (22%) of adults believe that Saddam Hussein "helped
        plan and support the hijackers who attacked the United States on
        September 11."
     -- Twenty-six percent (26%) of adults believe that Iraq "had weapons of
        mass destruction when the U.S. invaded."
     -- Twenty-four percent (24%) of all adults believe that "several of the
        hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11 were Iraqis."
 
     However, all of these beliefs and others have declined sharply since the
 questions were asked in February 2005. For example:
     -- Those who think Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda have fallen
        from 64 to 41 percent.
     -- Those who believe that Iraq was a serious threat to U.S. security are
        down from 61 to 48 percent.
     -- Those who think Saddam Hussein helped plan 9/11 are down from 47 to
        22 percent.
     -- Those who think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction are down from
        36 to 26 percent.
     -- Those who think Iraqi hijackers attacked the United States on 9/11 have
        fallen from 44 to 24 percent.
 
     Although public support for the war in Iraq has been waning, a 56 percent
 majority of all adults believe that "the Iraqis are better off now than they
 were under Saddam Hussein." However, this has also fallen from 76 percent
 since February.
     These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 1,961 U.S. adults
 surveyed online between December 8 and 14, 2005 by Harris Interactive(R).
     These new poll findings and trends show how slowly most people change
 their minds once they believe something to be true. Nevertheless, they also
 show that, over time, beliefs can change greatly.
 
 
                                    TABLE 1
                      WHAT THE PUBLIC BELIEVES TO BE TRUE
      "Do you believe that the following statements are true or not true?"
                             Percent saying "true"
     Base: All Adults
 
                                              October      February    December
                                                2004         2005        2005
                                                  %            %           %
     The Iraqis are better off now than they
      were under Saddam Hussein.                  76           76          56
     Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was a
      serious threat to U.S. security.            63           61          48
     Saddam Hussein had strong links with
      Al Qaeda.                                   62           64          41
     Saddam Hussein helped plan and support
      the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on
      September 11, 2001.                         41           47          22
     Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
     when the U.S. invaded.                       38           36          26
     Several of the hijackers who attacked
      the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis.       37           44          24
 
 
                                    TABLE 2
                WHAT THE PUBLIC BELIEVES TO BE TRUE AND NOT TRUE
      "Do you believe that the following statements are true or not true?"
     Base: All Adults
 
                                         True      Not       Not       Decline
                                                   True      Sure     To Answer
     The Iraqis are better off now
      than they were under Saddam
      Hussein                       %     56        16        25            3
     Iraq, under Saddam Hussein,
      was a serious threat to U.S.  %     48        35        15            2
     Saddam Hussein had strong
      links with Al Qaeda           %     41        33        24            2
     Iraq had weapons of mass
      destruction when the U.S.
      invaded                       %     26        50        22            2
     Several of the hijackers who
      attacked the U.S. on
      Sept. 11 were Iraqis          %     24        42        31            3
     Saddam Hussein helped plan
      and support the hijackers
      who attacked the U.S. on
      Sept. 11, 2001                %     22        46        30            2
 
 
     Methodology
     The Harris Poll(R) was conducted online within the United States between
 December 8 and 14, 2005 among 1,961 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for
 age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where
 necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the
 population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for
 respondents' propensity to be online.
     In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95
 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or
 minus 2 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult
 population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are
 several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are
 probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They
 include refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and
 question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that
 may result from these factors. This online sample was not a probability
 sample.
     These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
 Council on Public Polls.
 
     J W26225
     Q 646
 
     The Harris Poll(R) #95, December 29, 2005
     By Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive.
 
     About Harris Interactive(R)
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 Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market
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 participate in future online surveys, go to http://www.harrispollonline.com.
 
     Press Contacts:
     Nancy Wong
     Harris Interactive
     585-214-7316
 
     Kelly Gullo
     Harris Interactive
     585-214-7172
 
     Harris Interactive Inc. 12/05
 
 

SOURCE Harris Interactive