Poll: Iraq speeches, election don't help Bush
On Sunday, Bush called Iraq "an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."
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CNN -- President Bush's approval ratings do not appear to have changed significantly, despite a number of recent speeches he's given to shore up public support for the war in Iraq and its historic elections on Thursday.
A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll conducted over the weekend found his approval rating stood at 41 percent, while more than half, or 56 percent, disapprove of how the president is handling his job. A majority, or 52 percent, say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, and 61 percent say they disapprove of how he is handling Iraq specifically. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll interviews were conducted before President Bush's Oval Office address, which was broadcast on primetime television Sunday. (Read what he said.)
Although half of those surveyed considered Iraq's first full-term parliamentary election since the ouster of Saddam Hussein either a major or key step toward the U.S. achieving its goals in Iraq, only 40 percent felt the U.S. was winning the war. Half said that neither side was winning. (View poll results)
The poll was nearly split, 49 percent to 47 percent, between those who thought the U.S. will either "definitely" or "probably" win, and those who said the U.S. will lose. That said, 69 percent of those polled expressed optimism that the U.S. can win the war. The margin of error for how respondents assessed the war was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
When asked how long U.S. troops will stay in Iraq, more than four out of five respondents, or 82 percent, said they believed U.S. troops will be there from one to three years, if not longer. Only 17 percent believe U.S. troops will return home in a year or less.
As for how long U.S. troops should stay in Iraq, an overwhelming number of people, or 88 percent, said U.S. troops should stay no longer than three years. Nine percent felt that U.S. troops should stay longer. More than half, or 59 percent, say U.S. troops should leave by this time next year.
Although half those polled said that a stable government in Iraq was likely within a year, 62 percent said Iraqi forces were unlikely to ensure security without U.S. assistance. And 63 percent said Iraq was unlikely to prevent terrorists from using Iraq as a base. The margin of error on questions pertaining to troop duration in Iraq, as well as the country's future, was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll interviewed 1,003 adult Americans and found that the public has also grown more skeptical about Bush's key arguments in favor of the war. Compared with two years ago, when 57 percent considered Iraq a part of the war on terrorism, 43 percent think so now. In the weekend poll, 55 percent said they view the war in Iraq as separate from the war on terror. The margin of error on this line of questioning was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
On the domestic front, 56 percent of those polled say they disapprove of how Bush is handling the economy; by contrast, 41 percent approve. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The president may find support for his call to renew the Patriot Act. Forty-four percent said they felt the Patriot Act is about right, and 18 percent said it doesn't go far enough. A third of respondents say they believe the Patriot Act has gone too far in restricting people's civil liberties to investigate suspected terrorism.
Nearly two-thirds said they are not willing to sacrifice civil liberties to prevent terrorism, as compared to 49 percent saying so in 2002. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for those questions.
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