Afghanistan and Iraq Polls: "Where Things Stand"

A review of ABC News public opinion polls in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Jan. 11, 2010— -- As part of its award-winning "Where Things Stand" series, ABC News has sponsored five national public opinion polls in Afghanistan since 2005 and six in Iraq since 2004. Its coverage of these unique surveys has won several national news awards, including two Emmys, the first in the history of the news Emmys to cite public opinion polls.

Each of these surveys has been conducted through face-to-face interviews, in Dari, Pashto, Arabic and Kurdish, by trained interviewers with random national samples of Afghan and Iraqi adults. Question subjects have ranged from living conditions and experience of violence to personal aspirations, economic and emotional well-being and political and social attitudes.

The surveys have detailed the contours of public opinion in the wake of the U.S.-led invasions of these two countries, providing an essential element to public understanding of conditions there and helping to inform the debate over U.S. and international policy. Over time the data series in each country has traced the aftermath of U.S. and international involvement through success and failure alike.

In Afghanistan, the first ABC News survey found difficult living conditions but strong support for the ousting of the Taliban regime and high expectations for future development. ABC's subsequent surveys through January 2009, however, found growing frustration with the slow pace of development, continued and growing experience of violence and lessened objections to the Taliban in some areas. The latest poll, in December 2009, showed sharp improvements in public views – buoyed by political, economic and military efforts – but significant challenges still remaining. These data have underscored the link between violence levels, development efforts, the presence of both U.S. and Afghan forces and support for their mission.

The surveys in Iraq found initial support for the U.S. invasion, but of a more grudging nature, with sharp differences between Shiite and Sunni Arabs and Kurds in the north. What followed was an increasing spiral of despair as the country descended into sectarian strife, peaking in early 2007; then some improvement as violence subsided in the wake of the surge of U.S. forces and the arrangement of Sunni participation in security efforts. The last poll, in February 2009, found dramatic advances in public attitudes, with improved security and rising economic well-being boosting public confidence and bolstering support for democracy.

Each of these surveys employed rigorous area-probability sampling based on the latest available population data, with randomized household and respondent-selection procedures and back-checks for quality control. They've been supported with photos and video from interviews in the field, and in some cases with journal entries from interviewers describing their sometimes-harrowing field work experiences.

ABC's Afghanistan surveys were conducted by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, a Kabul-based firm co-owned by D3 Systems (the first three, in conjunction with Charney Research of New York). ABC's last four surveys in Iraq were conducted by D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul. The first two Iraq polls were conducted by Oxford Research International.

Ensuring global distribution of the results, ABC News invited international media partnership in these projects. The BBC or BBC World Service participated in four of the Afghanistan polls, ARD in three. Each of the Iraq polls has been co-sponsored by the BBC, and individual projects also included the German network ARD, the Japanese network NHK, Time magazine, USA Today and the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

ABC News won Emmy awards for "Best Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast" recognizing its coverage of the April 2004 and March 2007 polls in Iraq. Coverage of the 2005 polls in Iraq and Afghanistan alike received the inaugural Iowa Gallup Award for Excellent Journalism Using Polls, from the University of Iowa School of Journalism and The Gallup Organization; and the 2006 National Council on Public Polls award for Excellence in Media Coverage of Polls.

Individual details of these surveys follow.

AFGHANISTAN

2010

Field dates: Dec. 11-23, 2009 Details: 1,534 interviews via 194 sampling points, oversamples in Balkh, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar and Wardak provinces Media partners: ABC/BBC/ARD Field work: Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, Kabul

Analysis

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2009

Field dates: Dec. 30, 2008-Jan. 12, 2009

Details: 1,534 interviews via 194 sampling points, oversamples in Balkh, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar and Wardak provinces

Media partners: ABC/BBC/ARD

Field work: Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, Kabul

Analysis

Interviewer journal

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2007

Field dates: Oct. 28-Nov. 7, 2007

Details: 1,377 interviews via 176 sampling points, oversamples in Balkh, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz and Nangarhar provinces

Media partners: ABC/BBC/ARD

Field work: Charney Research and Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, Kabul

Analysis

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2006

Field dates: Oct. 14-19, 2006

Details: 1,036 interviews via 118 sampling points

Media partners: ABC/BBC WS

Field work: Charney Research and Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, Kabul

Analysis

PDF with full questionnaire

2005

Field dates: Oct. 8-18, 2005

Details: 1,039 interviews via 104 sampling points

Media sponsor: ABC News

Field work: Charney Research and Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, Kabul

Analysis

Photo slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

IRAQ

2009

Field dates: Feb. 17 - 25, 2009

Details: 2,228 interviews via 446 sampling points, oversamples in Anbar province, Basra city, Kirkuk city, Mosul and Sadr City in Baghdad.

Media partners: ABC/BBC/NHK

Field work: D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul

Analysis

Interviewer journal

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2008

Field dates: Feb. 12 - 20, 2008

Details: 2,228 interviews via 461 sampling points, oversamples in Anbar province, Basra city, Kirkuk city, Mosul and Sadr City in Baghdad.

Media partners: ABC/BBC/ARD/NHK

Field work: D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul

Analysis

Interviewer journal

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2007

Field dates: Aug. 17-24, 2007

Details: 2,212 interviews via 457 sampling points, oversamples in Anbar province, Basra city, Kirkuk city and Sadr City in Baghdad

Media partners: ABC/BBC/NHK

Field work: D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul, Turkey.

Analysis

Interviewer journal

Photo slideshow

Chart slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2007

Field dates: Feb. 25-March 5, 2007

Details: 2,212 interviews via 458 sampling points, oversamples in Anbar province, Basra city, Kirkuk city and Sadr City in Baghdad

Media partners: ABC/USA Today/BBC/ARD

Field work: D3 Systems of Vienna, Va., and KA Research Ltd. of Istanbul

Analysis

Interviewer journal and here.

Photo slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2005

Field dates: Oct. 8-Nov. 22, 2005

Details: 1,711 interviews via 135 sampling points, oversample in Anbar province

Media partners: ABC/BBC/NHK/Time/Der Spiegel

Field work: Oxford Research International

Analysis

Photo slideshow

PDF with full questionnaire

2004

Field dates: Feb. 9-28, 2004

Details: 2,737 interviews via 223 sampling points

Media partners: ABC/BBC/NHK/ARD

Field work: Oxford Research International

PDF with full questionnaire

Photo slideshow

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