Poll suggests Iraq PR push falls short
Majority favors diplomatic efforts on Iran's nuclear program
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard stand in formation during a deployment ceremony on Saturday.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than half of Americans believe the United States erred in sending troops to Iraq, a poll released Tuesday said, indicating that recent White House efforts to rally support for the war have not been successful.
In the poll, carried out by telephone Friday through Sunday with 1,012 American adults, 55 percent said they believe the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, 39 percent disagreed and 5 percent said they had no opinion.
The poll, done for CNN by Opinion Research Corp., has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for most questions. (The poll)
Tuesday's findings are within the sampling error of CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls carried out on the same topic in January, February and March. That implies national sentiment has changed little, despite a public relations offensive by President Bush and administration officials.
The war's popularity peaked shortly after it began in March 2003, with 75 percent of respondents saying that month that it was not a mistake.
In a poll released Monday, Bush's approval ratings reached a personal low, with a third of those polled saying they approve of the way he is handling his job.
About 132,000 U.S. service members are currently in Iraq. Since the war began in March 2003, 2,391 U.S. service members and military civilians have been killed there.
In remarks to Marines and their families in California on Sunday, Bush said he had called Iraqi leaders that day to congratulate them on breaking a logjam over who will become the country's prime minister, as efforts continue to form a government some four months after parliamentary elections.
"I recognize we still have more work to do," Bush said. "Democracy in Iraq will be a major blow for the terrorists who want to do us harm." (Full story)
On whether Bush should fire embattled Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the respondents were split in Tuesday's poll results, with 39 percent saying yes, 35 percent saying no and 26 percent saying they had no opinion.
Sentiment was similar on whether Rumsfeld should resign, with 43 percent saying yes, 35 percent saying no and 22 percent saying they had no opinion.
Those two questions about Rumsfeld, which were asked of just half the sample, had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.
Asked their opinion of Rumsfeld, 45 percent said unfavorable, 33 percent said favorable and 20 percent said they were unsure.
On who is winning the war, 26 percent said the United States and its allies, 13 percent named the insurgents, 58 percent said neither side and 4 percent had no opinion. That question also had a sampling error of 4.5 percentage points.
The belief that the United States and its allies were winning has declined since reaching 44 percent in a poll carried out in November 2004.
On the topic of what the United States should do to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program, 13 percent of those polled recommended military action "right now."
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) urged that only economic and diplomatic efforts be undertaken; 21 percent recommended taking no action at all and 3 percent said they had no opinion.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Iran's position on nuclear development self-defeating, while Iran's chief nuclear negotiator delivered tough rhetoric on the nuclear program. (Full story)
Iran maintains its nuclear research and advances are aimed at a peaceful energy program. The United States and other countries fear the work is a guise to hide development of a nuclear weapon.
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