Most Oppose President Bush's New Iraq Plan, But New Poll Finds Surging GOP Support for a Troop Surge

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

01/17/2007 - President Bush's plan to send roughly 21,000 additional troops to Iraq has drawn broad opposition from the American public. If anything, the plan has triggered increased partisan polarization on the debate over what to do in Iraq. While most Republicans support Bush's initiative, Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it, and a solid majority of Democrats (62%) say that Congress should try to block it by withholding funding for the additional troops. GOP support for the president's proposal reflects a sharp shift of opinion among Republicans on the broader question regarding U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Currently, 47% of Republicans believe that more troops are needed in Iraq, up from 26% who held that view in December. By comparison, just a quarter of independents say more troops are needed (up seven points from December) and just 11% of Democrats agree.

Support for the president's proposal is undercut by doubts about the impact that U.S. forces can have in Iraq. Americans are divided over whether the presence of American forces in Iraq is doing more to help the Iraqi government by providing needed support (43%) or more to hurt the Iraqi government by making them too dependent on the U.S. (43%). In addition, most lack confidence that the Iraqis can take over security in the provinces by November, as promised. And just 37% believe that America's security from terrorist attacks depends on our success in Iraq - a fundamental part of President Bush's case for the additional troops.The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 10-15 among 1,708 adults, shows that the public remains focused on the situation in Iraq. Nearly half (46%) say they are following news from Iraq very closely. When it comes to President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, 43% say they have heard "a lot" about it. This compares with just 16% who had heard a lot about the Baker-Hamilton commission's report last month. Attention to the Bush proposal is high across the political spectrum.

The public's view of the situation in Iraq is decidedly negative - 62% say things are not going well right now, largely unchanged from December but up from just 43% in June of 2006. And more believe it was the wrong decision to take military action in Iraq by a 51%-40% margin; in June, slightly more believed it was the right decision than the wrong decision (by 49%-44%).

Read the full report Broad Opposition to Bush's Plan at the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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