More Than 70% Want Troops Home By April
On the six-month anniversary of Bush’s escalation announcement, his tumble in the polls post-Scooter continues today with the latest USAT Gallup poll showing his approval rating falling to 29%. The poll, which had an oversample of independents (43%) shows that Iraq has cornered the administration and those who continue to defend the escalation as being isolated from the vast majority of public opinion.
Opposition to the Iraq war has reached a record high, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, a development likely to complicate President Bush's efforts to hold together Republican support as the Senate begins debate this week on Pentagon priorities.
Bush's approval rating has reached a new low: 29%.
In the survey, taken Friday through Sunday, one in five Americans say the increase in U.S. forces in Iraq since January has made the situation there better. Half say it hasn't made a difference.
More than seven in 10 favor removing nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq by April.
And therein lies the problem for the White House and its GOP supporters. The poll shows that the public wants to wait for General Petraeus’s report in September before a major course change is put into place, yet vulnerable GOP senators and representatives are no longer willing to stand by the escalation for another 60 days and defend the president’s Iraq plans. The Post describes those plans as spinning a different “I care” message this week but with no change in policy until September, and a commitment to escalation force levels until at least next March or April, after which a drawdown may take place. Politically, such a policy will make many of these vulnerable GOP senators and representatives road kill in November 2008.
The poll also shows that seven in ten want the troops out by next April, meaning they’re willing to wait for Petraeus’s report but regardless of what he says, they want the troops home six months after that, which is a logistical impossibility. The White House wants to wait until September as well, as the New York Times reports today that Bush has asked wavering GOP senators to hold off voting for any withdrawal until after Petraeus’ report in September.
Yet given the lack of integrity of this administration, the only way to ensure that any mission change or redeployment will take place during the remainder of Bush’s term consistent with the wishes of public opinion is to tie it to the 2008 defense authorization bill, as Republicans have done previously to Democratic presidents. This puts those vulnerable GOP incumbents in a no-win situation as they head home for summer recess and confrontations with their constituents.
Only the reddest of red state senators or representatives can survive politically next November if they spend the next three weeks refusing to tie the 2008 defense budget to an April 2008 redeployment and withdrawal. Given public opinion calling for troops to be largely out by April, and the military need for at least 12 months to pull it off, the outlines of a redeployment timeline and mission change are now sketched out between next April and next September, and there is no reason why Democrats cannot come up with a way to attract GOP votes with such language in the defense budget bill.