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Poll: GOP support for Iraq war beginning to waver

Story Highlights

• Support for Iraq war at all-time low of 30 percent, according to latest CNN poll
• Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe the war is going badly
• GOP opposition growing and 42 percent support some form of troop withdrawal
• Sen. Lugar, a prominent foreign policy voice, says war needs to change course
By Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Public support for the war in Iraq has fallen to a new low. Not only that, but Republican support is beginning to waver.

President Bush's troop buildup, or "surge," meant to quell the sectarian violence is now in place.

"The final surge was just completed in the last 10 days," Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott said Sunday.

What happens now? "Come September, we'll have to see how they're doing and we'll have to make an assessment," Lott said. (Watch Schneider report the poll results Video)

But the public is already making an assessment, and it's not good. In the latest CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday, 69 percent of those polled believe things are going badly in Iraq. Seventeen percent think the situation is improving. (View the latest poll results)

Thirty percent of Americans polled say they favor the war, the lowest level of support on record. Two-thirds are opposed.

Anti-war sentiment among Republican poll respondents has suddenly increased with 38 percent of Republicans now saying they oppose the war.

Moreover, 63 percent of Americans are ready to withdraw at least some troops from Iraq. Forty-two percent of Republicans agree.

Fifty-four percent of Americans do not believe U.S. action in Iraq is morally justified. (Read the complete poll results document -- PDF)

The telephone poll of 1,029 adult Americans was conducted between June 22 and 24, 2007, and has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

President Bush has always relied on solid Republican support for his Iraq policy. When Congress voted in April to impose a timetable for withdrawal, only two Republicans in the House and two in the Senate voted for the bill. Two-hundred-forty Republicans voted against timetables.

But there are some other cracks starting to show in the Republican wall of support -- most dramatically Monday when Republican Sen. Dick Lugar rose to speak in the Senate. (Watch Lugar call for a new direction for the Iraq war Video)

"I speak to my fellow senators when I say that the president is not the only American leader who will have to make adjustments to his or her thinking," Lugar said.

Lugar's assessment: "In my judgment, the costs and risk of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved." (Full story)

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, echoed Lugar Tuesday, laying out his plan in a letter to the president. (Full storyexternal link)

"We must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for our country's gradual military disengagement from Iraq and a corresponding increase in responsibility to the Iraqi government and its regional neighbors," he wrote. (Watch GOP senators defect on Iraq Video)

Voinovich said his proposal to bring troops home was months in the making. "I think everybody knows that we fumbled the ball right from the beginning on this," he told CNN.

The Senate Democratic leader said Lugar's remarks may be a turning point. "But that will depend on whether more Republicans take the stand that Sen. Lugar took, a courageous stand," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Are they? Among Democrats polled over the last four months, opposition to the war has remained nearly unanimous -- more than 90 percent opposed. About two-thirds of independents have also held steady against the war.

What's changed is Republicans. A growing number appear ready to follow Lugar's and Voinovich's lead.

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar calls for "downsizing and redeployment of United States military forces" in Iraq.



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