A majority of Americans - 54% - believe the United States has not lost the war in Iraq, but there is dramatic disagreement on the question between Democrats and Republicans, a new UPI/Zogby Interactive poll shows. While two in three Democrats (66%) said the war effort has already failed, just 9% of Republicans say the same.
The poll comes ahead of a September report to Congress by David Petraeus, commander of the multi-national force in Iraq, on the progress of the so-called surge in quelling attacks by insurgents and creating an atmosphere where the new Iraqi government can develop.
This strong skepticism of success in Iraq among Democrats echoes the position of some party leaders, most strongly worded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said in April that he believed that "this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything." This latest UPI/Zogby poll shows Americans are divided on the success of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq - while 49% believe it is not working, nearly as many (45%) said the surge has been effective. The vast majority of Democrats (86%) don't believe the surge is working, compared to just 11% of Republicans.
Asked to define a U.S. victory in Iraq, 37% of American adults overall said it would be achieved when Iraq gains control over its own internal security (a view with which 58% of Republicans, but just 17% of Democrats, agree). But nearly as many Americans (34%) said they don't believe a U.S. victory in Iraq is possible - 60% of Democrats agree there cannot be victory in Iraq, compared to just 7% of Republicans.
Overall, 13% said a U.S. victory will be achieved when a secure Iraq forms a democratic government, and 11% said the U.S. has already achieved victory in Iraq.
The online survey of 6,711 adults nationwide was conducted August 17-20, 2007 and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.2 percentage points.
During a recent speech in front of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri, President Bush referenced the after-effects of the Vietnam War while drawing comparisons to what might happen if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq. When asked which previous United States conflict was most similar to the war in Iraq, more than half (52%) in the online survey said it is most like the Vietnam War. Democrats (78%) were much more likely than Republicans (26%) to make the comparison between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq.
As Democratic and Republican presidential candidates gear up for upcoming state primaries and caucuses, Americans are split over which party, if elected, would be more likely to bring the war to a successful conclusion - 39% believe a Republican president would be more likely to bring a positive end to the war, while nearly as many - 36% - feel the same about a Democratic president. Another 17% said neither party would be likely to successfully end the war.
Asked which of the 2008 presidential candidates would best handle the war in Iraq, Rudy Giuliani topped the list with 14% support, followed by Fred Thompson (11%), Hillary Clinton (10%), Barack Obama (9%), John McCain and Joe Biden (7%), John Edwards (5%), and Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich at 4%. But overall, more Americans said they were unsure (15%) than supported any single candidate to best handle the war.
Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani (28%), Fred Thompson (21%) and John McCain (11%) were seen as having the ability to best handle the war, while Democrats favored Hillary Clinton (22%), Barack Obama (17%) and Joe Biden (12%).
In this latest online poll, 27% give President Bush a positive rating on his handling of the war in Iraq, up slightly from 24% who gave the president favorable marks in July. While the President's approval for his handling of the war showed slight gains, Congress remains stuck at just a 3% positive rating for its handling of the war, unchanged from polling last month. Congress faces overwhelming dissatisfaction among Democrats - 95% give Congress negative ratings for handling the war, compared to 94% who felt that way in July.
Overall, 43% believe that since the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in January, the current Congress's performance in handling the war in Iraq has been worse than the previous Republican-held Congress. Just 20% believe the current Democrat-held Congress is doing a better job, while 35% think its performance has been about the same. While half (50%) of Democrats believe there has been no change in the performance of Congress handling the war since the Democrats took over, 42% believe performance has improved since the Republicans had control - just 6% believe the Democrat-led Congress is doing worse.
Most Americans are highly critical of the U.S. government's pre-war planning - 80% don't believe the government adequately planned for the post-war phase prior to launching the war in Iraq. Three in four (72%) don't believe the U.S. government's conduct of the occupation phase of Iraq was handled competently.
The war in Iraq has also negatively impacted many Americans' views of various areas of the U.S. government - 60% said their confidence in the president has decreased since the start of the war, and even more (73%) say the same for Congress. Confidence in U.S. Intelligence Agencies has also decreased for 63% of Americans since the start of the war, while 45% say they now have less confidence in U.S. military senior leadership.
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