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Polls: Bush, Petraeus didn't change public views on Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush's speech, top general's testimony on Iraq did little to sway public opinion
  • Disapproval of the war, desire to withdraw troops unchanged, polls suggest
  • Approval of President Bush limited to Republican base, about 30 percent.
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- There were two high-profile media events about Iraq last week: The top U.S. commander testified before Congress and President Bush delivered a prime-time speech. What impact did they have?

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Gen. David Patreaus testifies before the House committees about the "surge" last week.

Very little, according to two polls taken at the end of the week.

Before the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and the President's speech, 26 percent of Americans polled by CBS News approved of President Bush's handling of Iraq. After the speech, 25 percent approved.

Before the testimony and the speech, 41 percent of Americans believed the United States did the right thing to take military action in Iraq. After the speech, 39 percent said it was the right thing.

The poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 4 percent.

President Bush spoke about a "return on success.'' Drawing on General Petraeus' " . . . belief we're succeeding, his belief we will succeed,'' the president asked "the United States Congress to support the troop levels and the strategies I have embraced.''

Democrats were skeptical. "We have now set the bar so low, that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation -- to the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that existed in June of 2006 -- is considered a success, and it's not," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois.

Does the public believe the U.S. troop build-up is making the situation in Iraq better? Before last week, 35 percent of Americans said yes in the CBS News poll. At the end of the week, 31 percent said yes.

A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found 54 percent of Americans want the U.S. to bring its troops home as soon as possible -- that's the same as in July.

The Pew poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 2.5 percent.

President Bush's overall job approval hardly changed. It was 30 percent before the speech and 29 percent after. But the president's rating did jump 15 points among Republicans.

Bottom line? Nothing much changed. The public still wants out of Iraq. But the president's Republican base remains loyal. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About George W. BushIraq WarDavid PetraeusBarack Obama

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