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Poll: Majority of Americans want withdrawal plan for Iraq
Updated 6/26/2006 8:34 PM ET
WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Half of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out within 12 months.

The poll finds support for the ideas behind Democratic proposals that were soundly defeated in the Senate last week. An uptick in optimism toward the war after the killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi earlier this month seems to have evaporated.

DETAILED POLL RESULTS: Iraq pullout, flag-burning amendment draw support

Richard Eichenberg, a political scientist at Tufts University who studies presidential polling, says views on Iraq are too set to be changed by momentary developments, even positive ones.

"The other piece of quote-unquote 'good news' is the unity government in Iraq, but it's not as if we're hearing that they have made great strides in eliminating the militia influence or violence anywhere in Iraq," he says. "There's still a steady drumbeat of bad news."

Bush's approval rating is at 37%. After hitting the low point of his presidency at 31% in May, it rose to 38% in mid-June. His standing, which slipped below 40% in February, hasn't rebounded above that level since then.

The percentage of Americans who say the president has "a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq" has dropped to 31%, a new low. That's still higher than the 25% who say congressional Democrats have a clear plan for Iraq.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults has an error margin of +/-3 percentage points.

In the poll, 57% say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops; 39% say that decision should be left to the president and his advisers.

Precisely half support withdrawing all U.S. forces immediately or within 12 months, while 41% say the United States should keep troops there for as many years as needed. Eight percent call for sending more troops.

Views on what to do divide sharply along partisan lines. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans support maintaining forces there as long as needed, compared with one-third of Democrats and independents.

"The president is not going to conduct the war based on polls," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said when asked about the survey. "His leadership is based on his strategy for victory. A democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will strike a blow to the terrorists and ensure a more peaceful world. As the president has said, we are in it to win."

Last week, the Republican-controlled Senate defeated two Democratic proposals to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. A plan by Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to pull out all U.S. combat troops over the next 13 months was rejected 86-13.

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