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Poll: Americans divided over Iraq invasion


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans are nearly evenly split over whether the United States erred in sending troops to Iraq, with an increasing percentage saying they believe it was a mistake, a national survey said Monday.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they thought it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq versus 47 percent with the opposite view. One percent said they had no opinion.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll's findings from January 14-16 are a reverse of a similar poll taken November 19-21 in which 47 percent called it a mistake and 52 percent said it was not.

Support among Americans for the war peaked right after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. A poll taken that March 24-25 found 75 percent of respondents saying it was not a mistake and 23 percent saying it was.

The new poll's results closely mirror those of June 21-23 and July 8-11, 2004, when 54 percent of respondents said they thought sending troops to Iraq was a mistake.

In this year's survey, Americans were nearly evenly divided about whether and how the United States should change troop strength in Iraq: Twenty-four percent said more troops should be sent, 26 percent said troop strength should not be changed, 21 percent said some troops should be withdrawn and 25 percent said all troops should be withdrawn.

The percentage calling for all troops to be withdrawn peaked at 29 percent May 7-9, 2004, and the percentage calling for more troops to be sent peaked at 33 percent April 16-18, 2004.

In the latest poll, 33 percent of respondents said they don't believe the elections scheduled for January 30 in Iraq will be held then -- a decline from an earlier survey. In the November 19-21 poll, 42 percent didn't think the elections would go forward in January.

Even if the elections are held then, Americans believe the United States has made a long-term commitment, the new survey found. Fifteen percent of respondents said they believe that the United States will be able to reduce the number of troops in Iraq significantly within the next few months.

Forty-three percent said they thought cuts in troop strength could come in the next few years, and 38 percent said they did not foresee U.S. troop reductions "for the foreseeable future."

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,007 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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