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Poll: Most doubt Bush has plan for Iraq victory
November 30, 2005

CNN) -- As President Bush launched a new effort Wednesday to gain public support for the Iraq war, a new poll found most Americans do not believe he has a plan that will achieve victory.

But the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday night also found nearly six in 10 Americans said U.S. troops should not be withdrawn from Iraq until certain goals are achieved.

Just 35 percent wanted to set a specific timetable for their exit, as some critics of the war have suggested. (View poll results)

White House officials unveiled a 35-page plan Wednesday to achieve success in Iraq, and Bush used a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to tout what he said was progress in getting Iraqi security forces in place to protect their own country. (Full story)

The poll conducted Wednesday does not directly reflect how Americans are reacting to Bush's speech, because only 10 percent of the 606 adult Americans polled had seen it live and two-thirds had not even heard or read news coverage about it.

But it does indicate the scope of the battle ahead as the Bush administration seeks to regain support for the war among an increasingly skeptical public. (Watch a fact check on Bush's speech -- 2:28 )

Among poll respondents, 55 percent said they did not believe Bush has a plan that will achieve victory for the United States in Iraq; 41 percent thought he did.

The sampling error in the telephone survey was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Asked about Bush's handling of the Iraq war, 54 percent said it was poor, while 44 percent thought he was doing a good job.

Those polled were split over whether they think a democratic government can be established in Iraq that won't be overthrown, with 47 percent saying that was likely and 49 percent saying it was not.

Fifty-four percent said they thought it is unlikely that Iraqi forces alone will be able to ensure security without U.S. help, and 44 percent said otherwise.

Also, 63 percent said they think it unlikely that Iraqis will be able to prevent terrorists from using their country as a base of operations, and only 33 percent said they thought it likely Iraq could be prevented from becoming a terror base.

Asked if the war will make the United States safer from terrorism in the long run, 48 percent said yes and 43 percent no, within the poll's sampling error.

More than 2,100 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 toppled the government of dictator Saddam Hussein.

About 159,000 American troops are in Iraq, up from about 138,000 in the summer, as the country prepares for its third round of voting this year.

Iraqis are set to select a permanent National Assembly December 15, after choosing a transitional parliament in January and approving a constitution in October.

The Pentagon has said that the level of troops is likely to go back down to the summer's level after the election.