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Monday, January 29, 2007

Latest Harris Iraq Poll: 'We're Not Winning, We're Not Losing'

The latest Harris Poll of U.S. attitudes on the situation in Iraq war shows that many U.S. adults hold the attitude of "we're not winning and we're not losing." However, while this suggests the U.S. adult public thinks that perhaps things aren't quite as negative in the war in Iraq, other data within this same survey still paints a very negative picture. Most of the numbers are nearly as low as they have ever been in the course of more than three years.

A slight majority (52%) believe that we are not winning, but we are not losing either. However, almost three times as many feel we are losing (29%)as compared to just 10 percent who think we are winning. There are significant differences by political party. Many Republicans (57%) agreethat we are neither winning nor losing, though 23 percent of Republicans believe we are winning and 11 percent think we are losing. Conversely,about half of Democrats (49%) think we are losing and 43 percent think we are neither winning nor losing.

In this survey conducted just before the State of the Union address, seven in 10 (70%) U.S. adults give President Bush a negative rating on his handling of Iraq, while only a quarter (26%) give him positivemarks. These are virtually identical to a November 2006 assessment when President Bush also received a 71 to 26 percent negative rating.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll survey of 2,337 U.S. adults conducted online between January 11 and 18, by Harris Interactive.

In the past few weeks, President Bush has also embarked on a major campaign to see his new Iraq policy of sending in more troops. The "sell" may be working somewhat as more people (27%) now accept the premise of sending more troops to Iraq for a few months. In November, a lower 19 percent agreed with this. However, that being said, over four in 10 (44%) U.S. adults think a timetable should be set for the withdrawal of US troops from the Iraq war. This is down from November, when 51 percent felt this way.

Furthermore the main trends are:

* By 67 to 16 percent, a clear majority still believes that there is a civil war in Iraq now. This has not changed since November 2006 when 68 percent to 14 percent felt this way;

* A 55 percent majority now believes that the situation for U.S. troops is getting worse and only 13 percent think it is getting better. In November, a 58 percent to nine percent majority felt this way;

* A 46 percent to 37 percent plurality (compared to 46% to 36% in November) now believes that "taking military action against Iraq" was the wrong thing to do;

* A 61 percent to 19 percent majority is "not confident" that U.S. policy in Iraq will be successful, compared to a 63 percent to 17 percent majority in November.

The public is split between those who believe that "it was a mistake to take military action in Iraq in the first place" (40%; down from November's 42%) and those who think it "was the right thing to do but that things have gotten off course" (41%; virtually unchanged from 40% in November). Only a small minority (12%; similar to November's 13 percent) believes that it "was the right thing to do and things are going reasonably well."

This survey finds that attitudes toward events in the Iraq war are still highly polarized by party. Fully 67 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents think that taking military action in Iraq was "a mistake inthe first place," but only 12 percent of Republicans feel this way. On the other hand, 57 percent of Republicans (compared to 24 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents) believe invading Iraq "was the right thing to do, but things have gotten off course there." Further, 26 percent of Republicans, but only two percent of Democrats and nine percent of independents, believe it was the right decision "and things are going reasonably well."

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