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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:13 a.m., Thursday, October 18, 2007

Poll: Americans 'less pessimistic' about Iraq war

Associated Press

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Whether because of the news from Iraq, or the messages from the White House, Americans are less pessimistic than they were about the future prospects in Iraq. The percentage of those who believe that things are getting better for U.S. troops has increased from 13 percent in March and 20 percent in August to 25 percent now.

Those who believe things are getting worse have fallen from 55 percent in January and 51 percent in March to only 32 percent in this new Harris Poll.

In May, only nine percent believed the surge of new troops was working; that has now almost doubled to a (still very modest) 17 percent . However, several other key indicators have not changed significantly. Two in five still believe that the surge is not working - 38 percent in May and 40 percent now.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,565 adults surveyed online between Oct. 9 and 15, 2007 by Harris Interactive(R).

One thing that has not changed is the perception of President Bush's job performance on Iraq. Three in ten Americans (29 percent) give President's Bush positive ratings on his handling of Iraq while two-thirds (67 percent ) give him negative ratings. These numbers have been holding steady since the spring.

Also holding steady are the numbers of people who think taking military action was a right or wrong thing to do. Just under half (46 percent ) believe it was the wrong thing while just over one-third (37 percent) of Americans believe it was the right thing to do. The remaining 18 percent are not sure. Interesting to note is that the number of people who believe taking military action was the wrong thing to do has hovered near the 50 percent mark since January of 2005 - almost three full years.

As part of the September focus on Iraq, President Bush announced that the additional troops that were part of the surge will be coming home in the summer of 2008. One third of Americans (33 percent) believe this is a good timetable for these troops to come home while 15 percent believe they should come home now. Three in ten (30 percent) Americans want to go even further and say these and all other troops should come home now.

One thing is certain - Congressional Democrats and the White House will continue to disagree when it comes to Iraq. In terms of who the American public would trust more in this disagreement, it's a dead heat. Just over one-quarter (27 percent) would trust Congress more while one-quarter (25 percent) would trust the White House more. But one-third (34 percent) would trust neither of these or feels there is no difference between them.

By party, the alignments fall as one might expect. Half of Democrats (50 percent) would trust Congress more while over half (58 percent) of Republicans would trust the White House more. Telling, perhaps, is that sizable minorities of both Republicans (24 percent) and Democrats (30 percent) would trust neither the White House nor Congress on Iraq.