A new public-opinion poll suggests domestic support is slipping for the war in
Iraq. The New York Times-CBS News poll found that 47 percent of those surveyed
believe the United States did the right thing in invading Iraq, down from 58
percent in March and 63 percent in December. National
The new poll has President Bush's public approval rating at 46 percent. His
handling of the situation in Iraq is down to 41 percent, compared to 49 percent
in the same poll last month and 59 percent in December.
But the president's expected Democratic opponent in the November election, Senator
John Kerry, does not fare much better in this latest survey. Sixty-one-percent
of those asked say Senator Kerry says what he thinks people want to hear, while
29 percent contend that he says what he believes.
The poll shows the presidential race about even.
The new poll numbers come in the midst of growing concern about the security
situation in Iraq and increasing U.S. casualties there.
West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a senior Democrat who opposed the war in Iraq,
renewed his criticisms on the Senate floor.
"How long will America continue to pay the price in blood and treasure of
this president's war?," he asked. "How long must the best of our nation's military
men and women be taken from their homes to fight this unnecessary war in Iraq?"
But there is criticism from some unexpected sources as well. Retired General
William Odom, who once headed the National Security Agency under President
Ronald Reagan, told NBC's Today program that it is time for the United
States to withdraw from Iraq.
"We have already failed," he said. "Staying in longer makes us fail worse.
If we were a small power, we might have to worry about our so-called credibility.
I do not think that is the issue. The issue is, how effectively are we going
to use our power?"
Bush administration officials are doing their best to calm jittery nerves
over Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a news conference in Copenhagen
that the United States will prevail in Iraq because the coalition is working
to give Iraqis a better life than they had under Saddam Hussein.
"We are facing some tough days right now, but we will prevail over these
tough days," said Mr. Powell.
Administration officials are also busy trying to reassure members of Congress,
including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
"It is critical that we sustain the support of the Iraqi people," he commented. "There
has been a lot of progress, progress in electricity, progress in school construction,
enormous progress in the health care sector. The biggest deficiency, of course,
is insecurity and unless there is security, all of the other progress does
The New York Times-CBS News poll found that 33 percent of those surveyed
believe the costs of fighting in Iraq are worth it while 58 percent said they
Political experts say the only way to make that figure go up is a turnaround
on the ground in Iraq.
Allan Lichtman is an expert on the presidency at the American University
"What happens on the ground, what happens in this very soon, impending handover
[of sovereignty] to the Iraqis is what is going to matter," he said. "It is
going to be events that count, not anything that the Bush campaign says about
On the positive side for the president, the poll found that 60 percent of
those surveyed approved of the way in which he is handling the threat of terrorism.