Even though the American involvement in the war is over, news on Iraq continues to engage American audiences and the recent Memorial Day holiday prompted many Americans to reflect on the impact of recent wars. The Iraq War has been an especially difficult event for many Americans, marked by a major drop in support from when the war began.
The Iraq War effort was launched in October 2002, when President Bush introduced a bill to Congress that would authorize use of force in the country. The bill was passed and the US began deploying troops the following March.
At the time, the decision to invade Iraq was largely supported by the American public. A Pew Research study found that 72% of Americans thought this was the right decision.
However, the popularity of the war began to slip almost as soon as it was launched. Despite strategic gains like the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, Pew found that by February 2005, the country was divided on the war and by mid-2006, the war in Iraq had more detractors than supporters. This is likely because despite claims in 2003 that the mission was accomplished, fighting raged on (in November 2004, the US fought insurgents in Fallujah, resulting in the highest US death toll in a battle since the Vietnam War) and scandals, like Abu Ghraib, brought to question the conduct of Americans in the Middle East.
By 2013, ten years after the beginning of the war, the Media and Public Opinion Research Group (MPO) found that only 38% of Americans think invading Iraq was the right thing to do. 33% say they never supported it.
Compared with Pew’s 2003 results, it would seem that there is about a 10% discrepancy between people who supported the war then and people who claim they supported the war then. This is likely due to respondents who changed their mind claiming they had been against the war from the beginning—a CNN/ORC poll in March 2013 asking whether or not invading Iraq had been smart or dumb showed a similar proportion of respondents thinking it was wrong as did the MPO survey, indicating that the discrepancy lies within those who currently think the war was wrong.
Additionally, MPO found that Americans are even less confident about the success of the mission than they are about whether or not it was a good idea: only 24% of Americans are willing to say that the US won the war.