The Washington Post
has a poll claiming to show that support for an Iraqi war is slipping or weak at best, and that the nation is deeply divided over the question. A quick look at previous polls shows some similarities to 1991, and shows that the Post's
poll analysis has not significantly improved. It also suggests that, once the war actually begins, it will enjoy widespread support, even from those who now are voicing doubts.
In a January 14, 1991 Washington Post article, Richard Morin notes the extreme sensitivity of support for the war on the way the question is asked. Americans, even then, were looking for alternatives to a war (and this was in reference to polls taken 3 or 4 days before the bombing actually began). When given an alternative, about 15% fewer respondents voiced support for the war. Also, a poll published on January 14, 2 days before the counter-offensive started, 80% supported the Congressional resolution authorizing use of force, but about 2/3 supported an international conference, and another look at the Israel-Palestinian issue in return for Saddam's withdrawel from Kuwait. Even then, the Arabs were blaming Israel for their own internecine conflict.
After the war started, the whole thing swung around, support for the war stayed over 80% for the duration, and the quick victory brought Bush I 90% approval ratings, which he proceeded to squander.