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Poll: Congress Gets Dismal Marks On Iraq

A new CBS News/New York Times poll out Monday shows that most Americans want to see U.S. troops start coming home from Iraq.

After last week's all-night Senate debate that ended without a floor vote, Americans also disapprove of how both parties in Congress are handling the war.

Among those surveyed, Congressional Democrats receive 30 percent approval on how they're handing Iraq after having failed in their recent attempt to force the start of a troop withdrawal. The Republicans, who mustered enough votes to scuttle the Democrats' plans, fare even worse, getting only a 22 percent approval rating.

Only 25 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling the war. The public is divided on one of the administration's main assertions — that Iraq is part of the broader war on terror. More think Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are not behind the current violence in Iraq than think they are.

Overall, only 26 percent of those polled approve of the job the Congress is doing as a whole, down slightly from last week.

Americans continue to want the war funded — with a timetable for troop withdrawal attached to the funding. A majority (63 percent) say this should be Congress' approach. One in four say funding should be continued without any timetable for withdrawal, but few think all war funding should be cut off, no matter what.

Just over half of Americans continue to see no impact from the so-called "surge" of additional U.S. troops in Iraq. One in five thinks it has made the situation worse, and about the same number say that it has made it better.

However, Americans are slightly more positive about the current situation in Iraq than they were last week, although they continue to paint a bleak picture of progress. Two thirds think it is going badly, while 32 percent think it is going well. Last week, 74 percent said it was going badly.

As a general matter of strategy for reducing the threat of terrorism, 54 percent now think the U.S. would be safer in the long run by staying out of other countries' affairs in the Middle East, while 38 percent say the U.S. should confront groups and states that support terrorists. This is a change from last fall, when Americans were more closely divided on this question.

But Republicans and Democrats have very different views on the issue of how best to combat terrorism. 67 percent of Republicans say the U.S. should confront groups and states that support terrorists, while 72 percent of Democrats (and 55 percent of Independents) say the U.S. would be safer if we stayed out of other countries' affairs.

News about U.S. intelligence reports indicating al Qaeda is getting stronger and the failed terrorist plot in London last month do not seem to have elevated Americans' concerns about a terrorist attack in the United States. Just 16 percent think an attack in the United States is very likely in the next few months. 41 percent say such an attack is somewhat likely, and another 38 percent say such an attack is not likely.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 889 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone July 20-22, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
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