Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Poll finds Americans more pessimistic on Iraq

Poll finds Americans more pessimistic on Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As President Bush weighs options for changing course in Iraq, Americans are more pessimistic on the war and most support a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

More than half of the respondents, or 55 percent, want most U.S. troops withdrawn within a year, but only 18 percent believe that will happen, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

The telephone poll of more than 1,000 adults was conducted after the bipartisan Iraq Study Group unveiled 79 recommendations for changing course in the unpopular war.

Bush is focusing on how to change strategy in Iraq after his Republican colleagues were swept from power in Congress last month largely because of anger about the war in Iraq. He could announce a shift in course next week.

His job approval rating hovered near a record low of 36 percent, according to a separate poll by ABC News and The Washington Post. His lowest point was 33 percent in May in the poll.

Seven in 10 disapproved of his handling of Iraq and 61 percent said the war was not worth fighting, it said.

In the USA Today/Gallup survey, three out of four of those polled said they supported the three major recommendations made by the Iraq Study Group: direct talks with Iran and Syria, withdrawing most U.S. combat troops by March 2008, and a new push aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Bush has rejected the troop withdrawal timetable and direct talks with Iran and Syria. He has not ruled out a regional conference involving Iran and Syria, but the White House indicated Iraq would have to set it up.

In a question asked of half the adults surveyed by USA Today/Gallup, a record high 62 percent said the war in Iraq wasn't "worth it," and a record low 16 percent said the United States was winning. That is less than half the 40 percent who held that view a year ago, the newspaper said.

The USA Today poll of 1,009 adults was taken December 8 and Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. The ABC News and Washington Post poll surveyed 1,005 adults between December 7 and Monday and has a 3-point margin of error.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky)