View Full Version : Poll: Most Americans feel vulnerable

08-08-2005, 09:49 PM
WASHINGTON ? American attitudes toward the war in Iraq continue to sour in the wake of last week's surge in U.S. troop deaths, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows. (Related: Poll results)

An unprecedented 57% majority say the war has made the United States more vulnerable to terrorism. The Bush administration has long argued that the key justification for invading Iraq was to make the United States safer from terrorist attacks. A new low, 34%, say the war has made the country safer.

The poll of 1,004 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, also finds that one in three say the United States should withdraw all troops from Iraq, another new high. The proportion who support maintaining troop levels or sending more troops also rose a bit, to 41%.

G. Terry Madonna, a pollster at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., says support for the war is eroding in large part because the public sees no end in sight to U.S. military involvement.

"You can't go month after month with no sign of progress and little evidence that Iraqi troops are able to defend themselves without public attitudes toward the war deteriorating," he says. "It has been seven months since the Iraqi elections, and most of the news since then has been bad."

Asked about the conflict's progress, 56% say the war is going badly; 43% say it is going well.

American University political scientist James Thurber says deteriorating public views of the war are helping to drive a change in administration policy that could produce a timetable for troop withdrawals.

"It's important for the Iraqi constitution and elections to stay on schedule, but if the number of deaths keeps growing, it will bring greater pressure to change policy," he says. The Iraqi committee that is drafting a constitution faces its deadline in less than a week, on Monday.

Democrats were quick to use the sobering news last week of the deaths of 14 Marines in a single roadside bomb attack to renew calls for President Bush to produce "a clear plan" for the situation in Iraq. "The president needs to answer questions," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said in a statement.

Republican pollster Whitfield Ayres says public attitudes toward the war rise and fall depending on the headlines. "If a constitution is adopted and a democratic government is installed, these numbers will go up again," he says.

A 54% majority say going to war in Iraq was a mistake, equaling highs measured last summer when insurgent attacks were rising. The same proportion said the war was not "worth it." A majority of Americans have expressed that view since last October.

Residents of the East Coast were most likely to say the war hasn't made the United States safer. Those in the South were most likely to say it has made the country safer. The poll also found Bush's job approval at 45%, near his record low of 44% late last month.