2005 Poll: Broad Optimism in Iraq, But Also Deep Divisions Among Groups

The political outlook, however, could improve. Nearly six in 10 Anbar residents have confidence that the elections will lead to a stable government. They're also more likely than other Sunnis to be interested in politics and to talk politics with others (more than eight in 10 in Anbar say they do both). But only two in 10 Anbar residents approve of the newly minted constitution.

Local Conditions

Across Iraq, most local conditions are rated positively -- and more so than in early 2004. This survey finds 10- to 13-point gains in ratings of local crime protection, security and medical care, as well as in the still-problematic areas of electric supply and jobs. (Even including the substantial number of self-employed workers, Iraqis are only about half as likely as Americans to hold jobs.)

Expectations for improvement in local conditions are all high -- in the mid-70s -- and similar to their levels in early '04.

Still, there clearly is room for improvement in local conditions. Many of the ratings are predominantly "good" rather than "very good" (freedom of speech, after the repression of the Saddam years, is one notable exception; schools are another.) On as basic an element as the supply of clean water, for example, just 19 percent say theirs is very good, and on electrical supply it's just 11 percent.

While most of these ratings have improved since February 2004, fewer Iraqis now say these conditions are better than they were before the war. That could reflect both dimmer recollection and an unwillingness to give the war credit for positive change. The measure above, rating conditions without relying on recollection, is the more reliable one.

Fuel, Power, Reconstruction

Electricity, taken for granted in the United States, is a continued sore point. Fifty-four percent say it's bad in their area, although that's down from 64 percent last year. More than half of Iraqis (again 54 percent) have electricity for no more than eight hours a day. Just 5 percent have it around the clock.

Ironically for an oil-rich nation, fuel supply also is a persistent problem. Among Iraqis who drive, seven in 10 say they encounter fuel lines. Just under half say they say they wait for hours; a quarter, for days.

Two-thirds of Iraqis also report waiting lines for another necessity, heating or cooking fuel. Four in 10 say they wait for hours; just under three in 10, for days.

And despite the billions spent, reconstruction does not win broad accolades. Just 18 percent of Iraqis say postwar reconstruction efforts in their area have been "very effective." Instead 52 percent say such efforts have been ineffective or, while needed, have not occurred at all.

Few -- just 6 percent -- credit the United States with the main role in reconstruction. More say it's the Iraqi people (12 percent) or the Iraqi government (9 percent), but 37 percent say it's "no one."

Security

As noted, 63 percent feel very safe in their own neighborhood, up sharply from an Oxford poll in June 2004. But again Sunni- and Shia-area differences are profound. Eighty percent of people in Shiite areas feel safe in their neighborhood; that dives to 11 percent in predominantly Sunni provinces.

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