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Gallup: Little Public Confidence in Bush on Iraq
Gallup
by Jeffrey M. Jones
January 10, 2007

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As President George W. Bush prepares to address the nation Wednesday evening to unveil his new policy on Iraq, he is doing so with little public confidence in his ability to handle the issue. Only about one in four Americans believe he has a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, and those who think the war is going worse than expected assign the most blame to him. His approval rating on the issue is the lowest of his presidency. Americans are no less critical of the Democrats in Congress on Iraq -- about as many say they have a clear plan as say this about Bush.

Iraq Plans

The latest USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Jan. 5-7, finds just 25% of Americans saying Bush has a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, the lowest such percentage of his presidency. The prior low was 31% in June 2006.

image

Bush's current score for having a clear plan mirrors his 26% approval rating for handling the situation in Iraq, also the lowest of his presidency.

Only a bare majority of Republicans, 53%, say Bush has a clear plan on Iraq, while 44% believe he does not. Twenty-two percent of independents and just 4% of Democrats believe Bush has a clear plan.

Americans are not any more likely to express faith in the Democrats in Congress when it comes to Iraq -- only 25% believe they have a clear plan. That view has remained remarkably consistent over the past year. Just more than one in three Democrats, 36%, believe their party's leadership has a clear plan on Iraq, compared with 22% of independents and 15% of Republicans.

The War vs. Expectations

Clearly, the Bush administration's predictions about the positive outcomes of the decision to invade Iraq have not come to fruition. The vast majority of Americans, 81%, believe the war in Iraq has gone worse than the Bush administration expected it would, with the majority saying it has gone "much worse" than expected.

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Those who believe the war has gone worse than expected were asked how much blame each of seven different individuals or institutions should shoulder for this. Bush is blamed more than anyone else, with 53% saying he deserves a "great deal" of blame and an additional 27% saying a "fair amount." Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraqi political leaders get the next-most blame, with 41% saying each deserves a great deal of blame. U.S. military leaders in Iraq receive the least amount of blame -- only 13% blame them a great deal.

(Asked of adults who say the war in Iraq has gone worse than expected) How much do you blame [RANDOM ORDER]for the war going worse than expected -- a great deal, a fair amount, not much, or not at all?

BASED ON 837 ADULTS WHO SAY THE WAR IN IRAQ HAS GONE WORSE THAN EXPECTED

2007 Jan 5-7
(sorted by "great deal")

Great
deal

Fair amount

Not
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

President George W. Bush

53

27

11

9

1

Iraqi political leaders

41

33

16

6

3

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

41

31

16

9

3

Vice President Dick Cheney

33

28

22

13

3

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies

26

33

23

12

6

The U.S. news media

24

28

22

24

1

U.S. military leaders in Iraq

13

27

32

26

2

Listening to the Public

Bush's expected announcement of increased U.S. troop levels in Iraq runs counter to the public's expressed desire. Just 12% of Americans choose an increase in troop levels when presented with four U.S. options for dealing with Iraq, and only 36% say they would favor a Bush proposal that would temporarily increase the number of U.S. troops to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Of course, those numbers could rise if Bush is successful in persuading the American public about the rationale for his proposals in Iraq.

When asked how much majority public opinion should influence government decisions on Iraq, 36% say "a great deal" and 38% say "a moderate amount." About one in four Americans say majority opinion on Iraq should have little (14%) or no (11%) influence on the government's decisions. So unless Bush can persuade Americans to buy into his new Iraq policy, he is taking a risk of further eroding his already low public support.

Democrats, who show the strongest opposition to the war, are most likely to believe public opinion should be a strong factor in formulating Iraq policy, with 48% saying it should have a great deal of influence. Only 16% of Republicans agree, although 55% of Republicans say it should have a moderate amount of influence.

How Much Should Majority Public Opinion Influence
 Government Decisions on Iraq, by Party


All
Americans

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

%

%

%

%

A great deal

36

48

40

16

A moderate amount

38

33

30

55

Not much

14

9

14

20

Not at all

11

10

14

9

Bush's pursuit of a new course in Iraq does, however, accord with the public's desire for action on the issue. The situation in Iraq tops the list of 12 issue priorities tested in the poll, with 62% saying it is "extremely important" for the president and Congress to deal with it in the next year.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 5-7, 2007. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

17. Do you think George W. Bush does -- or does not -- have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq?

 

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

%

%

%

2007 Jan 5-7

25

72

3

 

 

 

2006 Sep 15-17

36

61

3

2006 Jun 23-25

31

67

2

2006 Mar 10-12

32

67

2

2005 Jun 29-30

38

58

4

2005 Jun 24-26

37

61

2

2005 Jan 14-16 ^

49

50

1

2004 Oct 1-3

49

49

2

2004 Sep 24-26

52

44

4

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

42

56

2

2004 Jul 19-21

45

54

1

2003 Dec 15-16 †

51

45

4

2003 Sep 8-10 †

40

59

1

2003 Aug 25-26 †

44

54

2

 

 

 

^ Asked in a rotation with other issues.

† WORDING: Do you think the Bush administration does -- or does not -- have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq?

18. Do you think the Democrats in Congress do -- or do not -- have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq?

 

Yes, do

No, do not

No opinion

%

%

%

2007 Jan 5-7

25

66

9

 

 

 

2006 Sep 15-17

25

67

8

2006 Jun 23-25

25

68

7

2006 Mar 10-12

25

68

7

25. How much should U.S. government decisions on Iraq be influenced by what a majority of the American public wants -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or not at all?

 

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2007 Jan 5-7

36%

38

14

11

1

26. Just your best guess, do you think the war in Iraq has gone -- [ROTATED: much better than the Bush administration expected, a little better, about as well as it expected, a little worse, (or) much worse than the Bush administration expected]?

 

Much
better

A little
better

As
well as
expec-
ted

A
little
worse

Much
worse

No
opinion

2007 Jan 5-7

1%

3

13

25

56

1

Original Text

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