TPM's Greg Sargent notes that CBS's polls before and after the testimony of General Petraeus and Admiral Crocker show a surprising result: after their excellent testimony, the percentage of people favoring withdrawal from Iraq went up rather than down:
Before the testimony, 65% wanted the troops reduced or removed entirely; now that number is up to 68%. That's within the margin of error, but it's still up rather than down.
Meanwhile, the poll also finds that only 31% think the surge has had a positive impact -- the message that was blared at the public for days and days leading up to and during Petraeus' testimony. More than half -- 51% -- say it's had no impact.
Can we say that The Petraeus Show was a flop yet?
The survey taken before the Congressional testimony was 31 percent Republican and 32 percent Democrat. The survey taken after was 26 percent Republican and 34 percent Democrat. That's a small but significant difference; the sample went from +1 Democrat to +8 Democrat. Should it be a surprise that there was a small shift toward the liberal position?
Regardless, it's hardly worth commenting on so small a shift, but lefty bloggers are eagerly seizing on this data as proof that the testimony of Petraeus and Crocker changed nothing. They'd be better off checking the numbers before drawing conclusions, but in a sense they are right. Before the testimony the Democratic leadership in Congress lacked the votes and/or the political will to end the war, and after the testimony it's the same story.
In other important findings, the latter survey shows that a majority of Americans continue to believe the U.S. has 'a responsibility to ensure a stable Iraq' before withdrawing troops. Americans also believe by a margin of 30 percent to 11 percent that removing U.S. troops from Iraq would increase the terrorist threat to this country. The fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are leery of taking drastic steps to end the war shows that they recognize that people often have conflicting impulses, and while they want the troops home as soon as possible, that's hardly the whole picture.