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Monday, January 22, 2007

Poll: Bush Continues To Face Steep Public Disapproval on Iraq

Less than two weeks after President Bush unveiled his plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, a 68-percent majority of Americans strongly (45 percent) or moderately (23 percent) oppose Bush's "surge" strategy, according to the January 17-18 Newsweek Poll.

Fourteen percent moderately favor the plan and only 12 percent strongly favor it. Half (50 percent) of those polled advocate a reduction of troop levels in Iraq, versus 23 percent who want to increase the number of U.S. troops and 18 percent who want to keep troop levels the same.

Generally, only 24 percent of Americans approve of how Bush is handling the war-an all-time low in the Newsweek Poll; 70 percent disapprove. And two-thirds (67 percent) say they think the United States is losing ground in its efforts to provide security and democracy in Iraq; only 24 percent say the U.S. is making progress.

President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003 because he said Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. No weapons of mass destruction were found. More than 3,000 American troops have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands more have been wounded in Iraq and 34,000 Iraqis have lost their lives in Iraq.

Iraq has been plunged into increasing violence since the invasion ousted Iraq strongman Saddam Hussein. Saddam has since been hanged.

President Bush wants to add more than 20,000 U.S. troops to Iraq; Democrats who now control Congress are resisting that so-called surge strategy. President Bush does not want to withdraw forces from Iraq.

Taking a closer look at Americans' thoughts on the situation in Iraq, a majority now say they are not too confident (29 percent) or not at all confident (36 percent) that the Iraqi government will be able to control the violence and provide security to its citizens if U.S. troops are withdrawn. Twenty-two percent say they are somewhat confident and 5 percent say they are very confident, the poll shows. When it comes to U.S. political leadership, 55 percent of those polled say they have more faith in the Democratic congressional leaders to make decisions regarding Iraq policy, versus 32 percent who trust Bush to make better decisions. When asked whether Congress should try to block the additional funding Bush would need for additional troops, poll respondents were split evenly: 46 percent say lawmakers should, 46 percent say they should not.

Americans differ on what might result from increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, the poll shows. Sixty-seven percent say it is very or somewhat likely that it will lead to increased U.S. casualties without helping achieve our goals there; 62 percent say it is very or somewhat likely that it will make the Iraqis more dependent on U.S. military protection and only delay the time when they are ready to take responsibility for their own security; 33 percent say it is somewhat or very likely that it will give the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds time to settle their differences; and 42 percent say it is somewhat or very likely that it will help reduce violence in Baghdad. The poll shows Americans are also split on the United States' priorities in Iraq. Forty-six percent favor withdrawing troops as soon as possible to minimize the number of American casualties while 45 percent say we should maintain troop levels for at least another year or two to give Iraqis more time to settle their differences and reach a political settlement.

Bush Job Approval Low

President Bush's job approval rating remains at its all-time low in the Newsweek Poll: 31 percent. Sixty-two percent of those polled disapprove of how he is handling his job as president. Only 30 percent say they are satisfied with how things are going in the United States; 62 percent are dissatisfied. On the subject of Bush's leadership, 57 percent say he does not possess strong leadership qualities, 41 percent say he does. This represents a near reversal from Newsweek's September 29-30, 2005 Poll, in which 50 percent of those polled said he had strong leadership qualities while 47 percent said he did not.

In another turnaround from the September 29-30, 2005 poll, 54 percent of respondents in the latest poll say they do not think Bush is honest and ethical, versus 41 percent who say he is. Inthe earlier poll, 50 percent found him to be honest and ethical, while 45 percent did not. Only 35 percent of respondents in the most recent poll feel Bush cares about "people like them," versus 60 percent who do not.

For this Newsweek Poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates International interviewed 1,003 adults aged 18 and older on January 17-18, 2007. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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