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Poll: War opposition reaches high despite reports of less violence

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: White House says "The American people want our troops to succeed in Iraq"
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans oppose Iraq war, according to new poll
  • One quarter of respondents say U.S. is winning; 62 percent say no one is winning
  • Seventy percent of those polled oppose any U.S. military action against Iran
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Opposition to the Iraq war is at an all-time high despite reports of a reduction of violence in the country, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday.

Sixty-eight percent of poll respondents opposed the war, setting a record. The level of opposition is slightly up from last month and 1 percentage point higher than the previous record of 67 percent, first set in December 2006 in a CNN/Opinion Research survey.

Support for the war in Iraq among Americans has dropped to 31 percent from 34 percent last month, the new poll found.

The last time CNN reported a majority supporting the war was in October 2003, with 54 percent backing it, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

Reacting to the CNN poll, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, "The American people want our troops to succeed in Iraq, and it may take some time for perceptions to change back here, but the evidence on the ground in Iraq is clear: The surge is succeeding in bringing greater security in Iraq.

"As the president has said, with continued success, we can begin to bring troops home. As our troops are clearly succeeding on the ground in Iraq, they deserve our undivided support," Fratto said.

This year has marked the deadliest for U.S. forces in Iraq, corresponding with an American troop buildup and offensives against insurgents in the Baghdad area. The number of U.S. troops who died reached a peak for 2007 with 126 fatalities in May. Thirty-eight U.S. troops died in October, the lowest monthly figure this year.

In addition to the recent decline in U.S. military deaths, militant attacks and civilian deaths also have been dropping, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said.

However, those reports don't appear to have resonated with the public, the poll suggests.

Just one quarter of Americans believe the United States is winning the war, while 62 percent said neither Americans nor insurgents are winning, the latest survey found. There has been virtually no change in the past month in the number of Americans who believe that things are going badly for the United States in the war in Iraq.

Partisanship may be one reason why the recent reports are not changing public opinion about the war, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said. Video Watch how Democrats and Republicans view the war »

"Republicans and Democrats seem to be hearing different news," Schneider said, noting that 70 percent of Republicans believe things are going well in Iraq compared with 13 percent of Democrats. Independents tend to agree with Democrats, Schneider said.

President Bush on Wednesday dismissed a reporter's use of "quagmire" to describe the situation in Iraq, insisting the United States was making progress.

"If you lived in Iraq and had lived under a tyranny, you'd be saying, 'God, I love freedom,' because that's what's happened," he said. "And there are killers and radicals and murderers who kill the innocent to stop the advance of freedom. But freedom's happening in Iraq. And we're making progress."

The public also opposes U.S. military action against Iran. Sixty-three percent oppose airstrikes on Iran, while 73 percent oppose using ground troops in that country, the poll found.

Seventy percent said they oppose any military strike on Iran, slightly higher than 66 percent in 2005 but significantly higher than 23 percent in 2002 in CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls.

Bush has refused to rule out possible military action against Iran for its nuclear ambitions while insisting that diplomacy is the first option.

The president said Wednesday that his strong language was necessary to send "clear signals" to Tehran "that the free world understands the risks of you trying to end up with a nuclear weapon."

"Iran is as deeply partisan as Iraq," Schneider said. "Republicans favor military action. Democrats oppose it."

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Overall, 56 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with progress in the war on terrorism, representing a steady decline since 2002, when 24 percent said they were dissatisfied in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research telephone poll of 1,024 American adults was carried out Friday through Sunday. The sampling error for the full sample was plus or minus 3 percentage points; some questions were asked of a half-sample of about 500 respondents and carry a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Katy Byron contributed to this report.

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