Poll: More Think The "Surge" Is Helping

A U.S. soldier patrols through the streets of the Kadamiyah neighborhood September 8, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq. Getty Images

With President Bush's top military and diplomatic advisers on Iraq due to deliver a major progress report on the president's "surge" strategy, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that an increasing number of Americans believe the troop buildup in Iraq is having a positive impact.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus are expected to warn Congress on Monday that making any significant changes to the current war strategy will jeopardize the limited security and political progress made so far.

Later in the week, Mr. Bush plans a national address.

The poll finds 35 percent say the surge has made things better, up from 29 percent last month and 19 percent in July. Only 12 percent say it has made things worse, but nearly half see no change in either direction, according to the poll.

NOW: IMPACT OF U.S. TROOP SURGE

Made things better
35%
Made things worse
12%
No impact
45%

AUGUST, 2007: IMPACT OF U.S. TROOP SURGE

Made things better
29%
Made things worse
15%
No impact
46%

Belief that the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq has grown a bit since January. Still, that perception is well below the levels of early 2006, and most Americans continue to see the war as a stalemate.

NOW: WHO IS WINNING IN IRAQ?

The U.S.
24%
The insurgents
12%
Neither side
60%

JANUARY, 2006: WHO IS WINNING IN IRAQ?

The U.S.
36%
The insurgents
9%
Neither side
48%

On the political front, Americans overwhelmingly criticize the Iraqi government, the poll finds. Just 22 percent say the Iraqi government is meeting a relatively low bar - doing all it can realistically be expected do to bring about stability in Iraq. 70 percent say it is not meeting that standard.

On the military front, Americans' views of the impact of the "surge" strategy are divided by political affiliation. Fifty-six percent of Republicans think surge is making things better in Iraq, while only 19 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Independents do.

When it comes to evaluating the Iraqi government, there is no partisan divide. Less than one in four Republicans say the Iraqi government is doing what it can.

The poll finds a long-term pessimism remains about the Iraqi government: a 53 percent majority thinks Iraq will never become a stable democracy. Almost no one thinks it will occur within a year or two.

WILL IRAQ EVER BECOME A STABLE DEMOCRACY?

Yes, in year or two
4%
Yes, but will take longer
42%
No, never
53%

The poll finds that, in retrospect, a majority of Americans view the war in Iraq as a mistake.

DID U.S. MAKE A MISTAKE GETTING INVOLVED IN IRAQ?

Yes
62%
No
34%

Eighty-six percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents say the war was a mistake, while 31 percent of Republicans agree, according to the poll.

The 62 percent figure is reminiscent of the numbers recorded in Gallup Polls in the early 1970's when respondents were asked whether the U.S. made a mistake getting involved in Vietnam. Sixty-one percent thought the Vietnam war was a mistake in May, 1971, and 60 percent thought American involvement in Vietnam was a mistake in January, 1973, according to Gallup polls.
  • James Klatell

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