Progress vs. Support

PROGRESS vs. SUPPORT….Via Andrew Sullivan, here’s a series of public opinon charts compiled by Charles Franklin showing that support for the war has ticked upward over the past few months. No, strike that. Here’s the interesting thing: the trendlines show that opinions about how well the war is going have ticked moderately upward over the past few months. But while I was pondering that and scanning my RSS feeds, Think Progress pointed me to the latest CNN poll, which shows a record high 68% of the public opposing the war.

So: over the past three months the PR campaign from General Petraeus combined with the decline in casualties has produced about a five point increase in the number of people who think the war is going well. But over the same time, it’s also produced a three or four point increase in the number of people who oppose the war. Apparently, the American public increasingly opposes the war regardless of how well it’s going.

Both the numbers and the timespan are small, so don’t read too much into this. Public opinion on both questions has been jumping around within about a ten-point range on both questions for the past year. Still, the fact that opposition is increasing even though more people think the war is going well is striking, and strongly suggests that opposition to the war is past the point of no return. Apparently the American public is smart enough to realize that military progress isn’t really that meaningful without political progress, and we haven’t seen a dime’s worth of that. Unless and until we do, I don’t expect this trend to change.