ABC News and the Washington Post conducted a poll last night after Chimpy’s last gasp to gauge public reaction to his new way forward.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted following the President’s speech finds broad and strong opposition to his call to send about 21,500 more troops to Iraq: 61 percent oppose the force increase, with 52 percent “strongly” opposing the build-up. Thirty-six percent support the additional troops; only one-quarter of the public is strongly supportive.
The tepid response to the President’s new initiative is due in part to the public’s broad opposition to the war and its skepticism about Bush’s handling of the situation. For more than two years majorities have said the Iraq war wasn’t worth fighting, and by nearly a 2-1 margin Americans disapprove of Bush’s leadership on the issue. The reaction is also based on a dire assessment of the facts on the ground: In this poll, 57 percent, a new high, say the U.S. is losing the war in Iraq.
[M]ost Americans do not think Bush’s new plan makes it more likely the U.S. will win in Iraq; only 36 percent think so. Nor do they think a troop increase is likely to end the war more quickly; just three in 10 think it will. In both cases, about half the public says the new strategy will not make much difference.
The public also remains evenly divided on the President’s assertion that the Iraq war is central to the global campaign against terrorism, the war’s fundamental rationale. Forty-five percent say the U.S. must win the war in Iraq for the broader war on terrorism to be a success, 47 percent say the campaign against terrorism is not dependent on a successful outcome in Iraq.
With many initially unswayed by the President’s remarks, a narrow majority, 53 percent, think Congressional Democrats — controlling House and Senate majorities for the first time in the Bush presidency — should try to block Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.
Another finding from the poll underscores the public’s skepticism about the situation in Iraq. In his speech, Bush proposed setting goals for the Iraqi government to meet in an effort to stabilize the country politically and economically, and 71 percent think the U.S. should reduce its military and financial support for the Iraqi government should it fail to meet those goals. Perhaps with a sense of foreboding, 57 percent of Americans are not so or not at all confident in the Iraqi government’s ability to meet its new commitments. Forty-one percent are very or somewhat confident; only four percent are very confident.