Soldiers in Iraq

UTSA survey finds Bexar County split on Iraq views

By Marianne McBride Lewis
Director of Public Affairs

(Nov. 17, 2006)--Bexar County residents are split on the idea of "keeping troops in Iraq until stable" according to San Antonio Survey 2006, conducted by students working with UTSA's Culture and Policy Institute and Center for Policy Studies.

The UTSA students in combined research methods courses in sociology, public administration, kinesiology and criminal justice conduct the San Antonio Survey annually.

A random sample of 391 Bexar County residents who have landline telephones was surveyed. When asked, "How strongly do you agree or disagree with keeping our troops in Iraq until it is stable?" 41.1 percent of the respondents either strongly agreed or agreed, while 51.1 percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 7.8 percent said "don't know" or "no answer."

"The attitudes of people in the San Antonio area reflect much of the same attitudes toward this question that are being expressed across the country," said Juanita Firestone, UTSA professor of criminal justice and principal investigator for the UTSA survey.

"Compared to last year, support for keeping troops in Iraq until stable has declined in Bexar County by 7 percent."

Variations in support based on political views and party affiliation had strong impacts on how respondents perceived the idea of keeping troops in Iraq until it is stable.

Among those who defined themselves as conservative, more than one-half (54 percent) either strongly agreed or agreed, while 41 percent of conservatives either disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 5 percent did not express a view.

In contrast, among those who defined themselves as liberal, more than two-thirds (68 percent) either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea, while 18 percent agreed or strongly agreed, and 3.5 percent did not express a view.

Moderates, on the other hand, were split over the issue with 49 percent disagreeing with the idea, 43 percent agreeing and 7 percent expressing uncertainty either way.

Similarly, three-quarters (75.5 percent) of Republican respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with keeping troops in Iraq until the country is stable.

Democrats were near-polar opposites in their views with 74 percent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing, 19 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing, and 4 percent uncertain.

Nearly six in ten independents (58 percent) agreed with the idea, 34 percent disagreed and 7 percent expressed uncertainty.

Views also varied by the respondent's age. Between the ages of 18 and 35, 54 percent of respondents either disagreed (26.5 percent) or strongly disagreed (27.9 percent) with the proposition. However, disagreement decreased as the age category of the respondents increased.

While, a majority of the respondents between the ages of 35 and 50 disagreed with keeping troops in Iraq (54 percent), respondents in the 51-64 age category split evenly: 49 percent agreed and 49 percent disagreed. Similarly, 50 percent of respondents ages 65 or older disagreed with the proposition.

A moderate association and significant differences emerged among respondents who served in the military. Two-thirds (66 percent) of the respondents who have military backgrounds either agree or strongly agree that we should keep U.S. troops in Iraq until the country is stable. In contrast, 58 percent of respondents with no military background either "disagreed" or "strongly disagreed" with the idea.

Surveys were conducted from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, 2006. The standard margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 5 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

For more information, contact Juanita Firestone, principal investigator and professor of criminal justice, at (210) 458-2830; Richard Harris, co-investigator and professor of social work at (210) 458-2843; or Arturo Vega, co-investigator and associate professor of public administration at (210) 458-2650.

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