Eighty years after D-Day: American perspectives on U.S. wars

Paul TeasU.S. News elections intern
David MontgomerySenior data journalist
June 06, 2024, 3:04 AM GMT+0

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, Allied forces, including thousands of American soldiers, stormed the beaches of Normandy, marking a pivotal moment in World War II. As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, it's notable that World War II remains the modern conflict for which American involvement is seen as a mistake by the smallest share of Americans. This is in stark contrast with much more critical sentiment about more-recent conflicts.

Recent Conflicts and Changing Perspectives

American involvement in recent wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be viewed as mistaken. 47% of Americans consider the Iraq War a mistake, and 43% feel the same about the war in Afghanistan — skepticism that has risen slightly since 2021.

Vietnam stands out among modern U.S. wars for the regret it engenders among Americans. Today, 53% of Americans believe sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake, a slight decrease from 57% when the question was first asked in 2014.

Political Divides on War Opinions

In Americans' views on wars, clear political divides emerge, particularly for conflicts since Vietnam. While Democrats and Republicans don't differ much in their views on wars before Vietnam, their opinions diverge sharply on more recent conflicts. Republicans generally are less likely than Democrats to view U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the 1990s conflict in Iraq as mistakes. For instance, 59% of Democrats believe the Vietnam War was a mistake, compared to 47% of Republicans.


— Bryn Healy contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs for the June 2 - 4, 2024 Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The poll was conducted among 1,766 U.S. adult citizens from June 2 - 4, 2024. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Robert Sargent / Stringer)