Support For War Continues To Erode

(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Kathleen Frankovic is Director of Surveys for CBS News.

Tonight we will release the latest CBS News/New York Times national poll – and the findings continue to show the public's dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. It's been a long slide.

There has always been opposition to the use of U.S. military troops to Iraq. Even in March 2003, as the war began, one in four Americans told us that they believed the U.S. should stay out of Iraq. But the war lost the support of the majority a long time ago. Not since October 2004, just before the last presidential election, have a majority agreed that the war was the "right thing" to do.

Since then, there has been a slow decline. Last December, for the first time, fewer than 40 percent of Americans said the war was the right thing to do. In this latest poll, the number is again the lowest ever -- just 35 percent. Six in ten Americans - 61 percent - now say the U.S should have stayed out.

Opinions about the correctness of the war have always been related to perceptions of how the war is going – and for most people, it's going badly. Our poll was conducted while the search for three Americans military hostages was going on, and after an April U.S. military death toll that exceeded 100. 76 percent in this poll said the war was going badly – another record high. Even 52 percent of Republicans – who previously have been staunch supporters of the war and generally have said it our polls that it has been going well – agree it is now going badly. The "surge" isn't yet seen as helping – only 20 percent of all those we interviewed think it is.

From a policy point of view, a majority continues to support a timetable for troop removal sometime in 2008, and 69 percent would want continue funding tied to benchmarks. From a political point of view, the war isn't helping President George W. Bush. Just 23 percent approve of the way he is handling the war in Iraq; just 30 percent approve of the way he is handling his job overall.