Majority Of Americans Support Timetable For Withdrawal

Majority Of Americans Support Timetable For Withdrawal
December 13th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Majority Of Americans Support Timetable For Withdrawal

Majority Of Americans Support Timetable For Withdrawal
Los Angeles Times
December 13, 2006 The Times/Bloomberg Poll

Results suggest that Bush, who has rejected the idea, is out of step with public opinion on the Iraq war.
By Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writer
A majority of Americans favor setting a fixed timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq, and just 12% would support a plan to increase troop strength, an option under serious consideration by the military, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.
A month after a watershed election that switched control of Congress to the Democrats, respondents expressed low confidence in President Bush's ability to resolve the conflict in Iraq.
By a hefty margin they said Iraq should be the top priority for the new Congress. A plurality of 45% said they had more trust in Democrats to handle the war; 34% said they had more confidence in Bush, who has rejected the idea of setting any timetable for withdrawing troops.
Nearly two-thirds said they believed Iraq had descended into "civil war," which Bush has denied. At a time when the administration is at work on a new strategy for Iraq and is resisting calls to start bringing troops home, the poll suggests that the president and his staff are out of step with public opinion.
"The public doesn't want the status quo any longer in Iraq, and they believe the Democrats, rather than President Bush, will be best at finding a solution to the war," said Times polling director Susan Pinkus.
A majority of 52% of the poll's respondents including nearly 1 in 3 Republicans said they preferred a "fixed timetable" for withdrawal; 26% of those surveyed favored Bush's option of keeping troops on the ground until the country is secure.
About 1 in 8 expressed support for the option of increasing troop strength, which is favored by many Pentagon leaders and has been proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a likely presidential candidate.
"I'd rather get them home now," Marcia Downing, 54, a homemaker from Nashville who is a registered Republican, said in a follow-up interview. "We are losing people day after day after day.... Get our sons home."
The war appears to be the top issue on Americans' minds. When asked an open question about priorities for the new Congress, 27% of respondents listed Iraq as their top concern. The next two issues healthcare at 16% and immigration at 11% ranked significantly lower.
Respondents from both parties expressed strong support for the recommendations released last week by the Iraq Study Group, which urged the administration to make a new diplomatic effort to engage Iraq's neighbors in stabilizing the country.
By 64% to 28%, respondents favored the group's recommendation to open direct talks with Iran and Syria.
"Dialogue is important in any resolution," said Terry Katz, 52, who runs a landscaping company in Cincinnati. "It's better to have friends than enemies."
Katz, who is Jewish, said he disagreed with the administration's decision to shun Iran because of its hostility to Israel and its nuclear weapons program, saying: "I think that's all the more reason to talk to them."
The panel also encouraged the administration to shift the military mission in Iraq from combat to training, which would permit most combat troops to withdraw by early 2008 and a smaller number of training advisors to remain, largely embedded with Iraqi security forces. Respondents also favored that option nearly 2 to 1.
"I believe we need to be out of there," said Marilyn Perlman, 65, of Boulder, Colo. "Pulling our troops out of the midst of the battle makes sense, and relocating them near the borders" could prevent more violence.
Overall, 56% of those polled said they believed the situation in Iraq was not worth going to war over, compared with 40% who said it was. That result was roughly comparable to results from polls earlier this year.
Bush's overall approval rating stood at 42%, generally in line with other results in the last year, in which his approval rating has fluctuated between a high of 45% and a low of 38%.
Respondents said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans on nearly every issue, including the economy.
Poll participants even gave the Democrats the edge on one of the Republicans' signature issues: taxes. Forty-seven percent said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to do a better job handling taxes, and 56% said they would favor repealing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and investors.
And despite the Bush administration's new Medicare prescription drug benefit, 63% of respondents said they thought Democrats would do a better job of handling drug prices for the elderly and poor.
The only area in which Bush had an advantage over Democrats was the war on terrorism. Forty-three percent of respondents said they thought the president would do a better job than Democrats on national security and terrorism, whereas 38% said Democrats would. However, his advantage has declined in the last year; in January it was 45% to 32%.
Though Americans said they preferred Democrats on most issues, they also said they wanted both si

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