Just How Far South Has the Public Gone on Iraq?
Pretty darn far. Yesterday, I mentioned that Bush's approval rating on Iraq among independents is now a sizzling 29 percent.
Here's some more data from that CBS News/New York Times poll that shows how extremely unhappy the public (especially independent voters) is with the Iraq situation. I was particularly struck by this finding: the public, by more than 3:1, thinks that US involvement in Iraq is creating more terrorists who are planning to attack the US (55 percent), rather than less (17 percent). Wow. More potential airline highjackers, bioterrorists and what have you, rather than less. That's really an amazing finding and shows how far the administration's strategy for the war on terror has sunk in public esteem.
Similarly, by about 4:1, the public thinks that US military action against Iraq has increased (47 percent) rather than decreased (13 percent) the threat of terrorism against the US. Looked at another way, 85 percent think the Iraq war has either made no difference or increased the threat of terrorism.
Moreover, by about 2:1 (60-32), the public believes the result of the war with Iraq has not been worth the associated loss of American life and other costs (that result skies to 65-28 among independents). And we're edging toward a majority saying we should have stayed out to begin with (and we're already there among independents).
But will the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis get views on Iraq headed north again? I doubt it, unless the situation on the ground in Iraq improves dramatically, which seems highly unlikely. And keep in mind how the public is viewing this handover: they're for it, but they regard it as a sign of failure, not success, for Bush's policy. A just-released Gallup poll finds 60 percent saying the handover, given that stability has not yet been established, does indicate that US policy is failing, compared to 32 percent who think the handover means success (and it's 66-25 among independents).
Note also that 70 percent now think significant numbers of US troops should remain in Iraq for only two years or less, but just 36 percent believe such a deadline will be met. Food for thought for John Kerry, who, so far, has not been able to open up a significant lead over Bush--despite his horrific numbers--on who can best deal with the Iraq situaiton.