Most say no to Iraq buildup
Updated 1/9/2007 7:20 AM ET
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President Bush will outline his "new way forward" in Iraq on Wednesday to a nation that overwhelmingly opposes sending more U.S. troops and is increasingly skeptical that the war can be won.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows a daunting sales job ahead for the White House, which is considering a plan to deploy up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.
Those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%. Approval of the job Bush is doing in Iraq has sunk to 26%, a record low.
"He certainly has the wind in his face," says Michael Franc, a former congressional aide now at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "But that's not to say if he were to pursue a change in policy that proved to be successful, that those numbers wouldn't flip."
Views of the war will be difficult to change with rhetoric alone, says Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. And if the public expresses strong opposition to Bush's plan, he says, Congress "may feel emboldened to exert what control they have to stop or at least make it more difficult for the president to move forward."
The survey of 1,004 adults, which has a margin of error of +/—3 percentage points, shows Americans pessimistic about the war and inclined to hold Bush responsible.
Among key findings:
•Nearly half of those surveyed say the United States can't achieve its goals in Iraq regardless of how many troops it sends. One in four say U.S. goals can be achieved only with an increase in troop numbers.
•Eight in 10 say the war has gone worse than the Bush administration expected. Of those people, 53% say Bush deserves "a great deal" of blame; 41% place a great deal of blame on Iraqi political leaders.
•By 72%-25%, Americans say Bush doesn't have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq. Congressional Democrats fare only a little better: 66%-25%.
Even so, Democrats take control of Congress amid a wave of good feeling. By 2-to-1, Americans say they want congressional Democrats, not Bush, to have more influence over the direction of the nation.
The president's overall job approval rating is 37%, up 2 percentage points from mid-December.
posted by Steve @ 1:07:00 AM